What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

On shoveling snow

There were about three inches of heavy wet snow on the ground this morning. By this afternoon, that had grown to about six inches and snow was still falling. This definitely darkened my mood today. I was of two minds when I got home. I felt certain that either I was going to start an extended “Blog Break” and stay away from the Blogiverse for awhile or I was going to write a soul searching post. Writers, professional or otherwise, seem to always find a soul-searching article or two in them. I, suppose, that is partly human nature, this urge to share something deep and personal with others. It is also true that readers like to read them. After all, reading the soul-searching words put down by a writer is a way of being let in on a secret. We all like being let in on a secret. It was the highlight of many of our childhood intrigues.

The problem here is that I find most soul searching monologues to be very morose. I am not a fan of morose. The fact that most secrets are from the darker side of our lives just contributes to this tendency toward depressing topics in these pieces. After all, we don’t usually keep the bright moments of our lives a secret. We share good meals, marriages, births, bad jokes, loves, promotions, and accomplishments with our family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else within range. No, our deeply held secrets are not usually those things that we would want to shout out on the street corner. They are kept carefully chained up in our internal dark places for good reason.

Instead of writing some sad piece of tripe that would; surely, trigger an extended leave from any more blog writing, I decided to go out and shove the three point two metric tons of snow off of my driveway instead. (I didn’t really weigh it. I just like the way that “three point two metric tons of snow” sounds when you say it aloud in a game show announcer voice.)

In the movie, Bruce Almighty, there is a great scene where Morgan Freeman and Jim Carey, as God and Bruce, are mopping a large floor together. Bruce Almighty was not my favorite movie. It was a bit too smarmy for my tastes in comedy, but I did really appreciate that scene. I didn’t appreciate it so much for its heavy-handed metaphorical subtext, but simply because I have mopped large floors. If you have never been blessed/cursed with some time in the world of commercial janitorial services, then let me tell you it is not all about the glamour and excitement of picking cigarette butts out of urinals. There are moments of quiet introspection after the building has closed up and almost everyone else has gone home. One of them is the process of mopping a large, open area with an industrial mop either alone or with a partner. Unlike mopping your kitchen or bathroom; in order to do it without exhausting yourself or leaving spots untouched, you have to fall into a kind of whole body rhythm that is like that found in cross-country skiing or ballroom dancing. As you swing the heavy mop back and forth, it lulls you into a very focused introspective mindset. You can get a lot of thinking done while mopping a large floor. Unlike cross-country skiing or ballroom dancing, there is a prize in the bottom of this box of Cracker Jacks. When you are done, you can stand back and take pride in a shining spotless expanse of flooring. You get just a moment to appreciate perfection.

When I shovel snow, I do so in that same very methodical (anal) way. I like to be able to stand back when I am done and see all the shovel tracks in crisscrossed, precise, angular rows. I am sure that this is a symptom of some personality imbalance, but in the hierarchy of gremlins who mess with the machinery of my psyche this one is probably lucky to be a second stringer. I find that there are certain times when your thought processes seem less distracted, clearer. I have written on several occasions about those moments that seem to bring the world into a sharper mental focus: late at night, just before falling asleep, in the shower, and after the birth of your first child. It has almost become a theme here. I guess that I would now have to add the physical exertions of shoveling snow at night to the list. Unlike the eerie quiet of the very early morning hours, the evening quiet of snow shoveling is a harsher regime enforced by the constant scraping of the metal shovel on the concrete and the inhospitable isolation of the cold. I get a lot of thinking done while shoveling snow. Unrelated things fall into recognizable patterns much more easily.

Want to know a secret?

I wrote this entire piece, word per word, in my head while shoveling my driveway. All I did when I came inside was to spend five minutes typing it out. It is a long post. There was a lot of snow.


Blogger Glory said...

If you need any more mental clarity, you can come shovel our driveway. Or better yet--I've discovered that doing huge amounts of laundry has the same effect. Even better, in fact, and I'd like to enable you to experience that first hand.

16/12/05 7:09 AM  
Blogger Juri said...

I'd like to guess that we must live in the same part of the country, although there was a lot of snow dumped all over the country today. I, too, blog in my head and have always thought that I must be in a minority. But if the bloggers that I "hang out with" do the same, I feel a bit more sane.
And I wanted to clarify about your comment on one of my posts. No, you didn't offend me. But I felt strongly about what you said. No harm, no foul.

16/12/05 8:26 PM  
Blogger Glory said...

Merry Christmas...wishing you and the whole HCaldwell family blessings and peace.

21/12/05 8:21 AM  

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