December 1st: first light snowfall (in Pittsburgh).
Having grown up in Moscow, Russia, I know snow. Not with that proverbial expertise of the Eskimos who can find more types of snow than there are ice cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins. No, not like that, of course. But intimately, nevertheless.
For me, snow has always come with that built-in intuitive insight that we are all unique even if we don’t see it. As a kid I remember always knowing this: each snowflake is one of its own kind, no two are the same.
I remember looking for that suchness and never finding it. You catch one on the palm of your hand to examine but it melts on contact, escaping any verification of its idiosyncrasies. Just like all these moments of time: each as anonymously evanescent as the next. And just like we are ourselves. Day in, day out, we are we, in that ineffable, inexpressible way – no matter what flows through us.
And paradoxically, we run from this baseline experiential sameness, from this am-ness in search of a new form. We tend to see this incomparable uniqueness as “nothing special.” And, in some ways, it is: visible (i.e. special, from Latin verb spectare which means “to see, to view”) to us, but instantly melting upon contact with words as we try to convey the unique through the generics of expression.
So, that’s how it is: this snowfall of essence. Whether it snows outside or not today wherever you are, notice this gentle cascade of mind-forms, these snowflakes of sensations and feelings and thoughts. And then notice the one who is noticing…
And, if health permits, this winter consider seasoning the mind by seasoning the body: take a dip in the chilling stillness of the moment. Drop your jaw now and then.
Curio for the Mind:
Winter Swimming by Somov
Winter Swimming by Antonov
Photo by A. McGill, available under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial license.
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Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2011