One City

One City

The Weather Outside is Frightful

by Evelyn Cash

I returned home from retreat last week, feeling very cheerful and very Zen only to be literally smacked in the face by the first winter storm of the year.  The solstice may not yet be upon us but you know its winter on the Plains when the windchill puts the “feels like” temps into sub-zero territory.  This – of course – was only the first of the season’s storms; even now, tells us that a fresh storm is set to dump snow all over the mountain West while the upper Midwest is dealing with freezing rain and icey roads.  Yes, the eggnog has been broken out and so have the ice-scrapers, winter has come to the lower 48.  Buddhism may have its roots in the heat of India but the Buddhist ideas
of mindfulness, patience and compassion are essential tools for braving
the winter weather.



It always perplexes me when people seem surprised to find me bundled up in hat, coat, mittens and earmuffs and remark, “I thought you were from Ohio… aren’t you used to this?”  Yes, I grew up with the snow in Ohio but that doesn’t mean my ancestors evolved there and so I’m somehow physically immune to the cold.  No, it simply means that I know how to prepare for the cold and snow of the season.  When you grow up in the Midwest, you learn how to shovel snow at a young age, you learn how to bundle up and you learn how to drive on the white stuff.  But as I’ve become an adult and have had to brave the elements many times to get to work, I’ve seen that adding a little bit of mindfulness and patience to my morning drives on those nasty days goes a very long way.


It’s very easy to step outside, see your car frozen over and slip into some small frustration or irritation with your situation but I think its important to remember a few things as you dig your scraper out of the trunk.  First off, recall that we have no control over the weather and that the fact that your car is covered in ice isn’t a personal attack or punishment just for you.  Afterall, just look at the other cars in the parking lot, you’re not alone in this. 

When you look at it with a Buddhist perspective, winter storms offer us a unique opportunity to practice patience.  No matter what meeting or important task is waiting for you at the office, it’s not worth risking your neck on the ice-rink of the roads to try to get there early.  And so, when the roads get bad, I simply turn on my favorite playlist and enjoy the music as I slowly and carefully make my way to work.  It may take me much longer to get there but at least I’ll get to my destination safe and without a car insurance claim called in. 


And lastly, yet most importantly, I think it’s important to recall that when the temperatures dip into the single digits and below, there are people in every city who are out in the elements without the benefits of even so much as a warm fire.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to have cars that run and warm beds at night would do well to remember that not everyone is so lucky.  These thoughts inspire me to try not to pass the Salvation Army tin without adding what I can and to volunteer when I can during the winter season.  In the same vane, it’s also important to remember to treat our fellow shoppers (and service people, I remember working those holiday shifts) out braving the elements on the yearly gift-hunt with a little extra helping of compassion.  This can be a stressful time of year for many reasons – weather related and otherwise – everyone could use a kind word or a smile during the holidays.  And so, when the elements force us to slow down a bit on our rush through life, let’s try not to forget just how lucky we are to have the opportunity to scrape ice off our cars.

Til next week, stay safe out there everyone and try to remember to practice a little more mindfulness, patience and compassion out on the road.

Comments read comments(2)
post a comment
Dot luce

posted December 13, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Ah, the ultimate Buddhist practice; aging. I no longer have the energy to stress, jump up & down, yell, only to yawn, stretch like my cat, and say, “I’ll get there when I get there….or maybe not.”

report abuse

Anan E. Maus

posted December 14, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I too find winter a strain…with back and neck problems it isn’t as easy as it used to be.
But winter can also be so extraordinarily beautiful.
I always loved the story of the Japanese snow monkeys who watched people bathing in a hot spring in their cold climate…and decided to jump right in!
here’s a nice little picture:

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting One City. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Buddhist Story By Beliefnet Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading! ...

posted 2:29:05pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mixing technology and practice
There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I'll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel. How do we use modern, social media ...

posted 3:54:40pm May. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Wisdom 2.0
If a zen master were sitting next to the chief technical officer of Twitter, what would they talk about? That sounds like a hypothetical overheared at a bar in San Francisco. But this weekend I saw the very thing at Soren Gordhamer's Wisdom 2.0 ...

posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had ...

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a ...

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.