Every January there is a tradition in the area of the world that I live in. If you don’t know, I live in the Northern Midwest – the Metro Detroit Area to be specific – and each time we move into the heart of winter, I witness the same phenomenon. For almost 40 years now, I’ve watched it happen over and over. Each time I’d do my best to greet it with at least a half-hearted smirk and an attempt to stop my eyes from rolling like a Romanian Gymnast. You know the people. You know the conversation. And you know you can’t avoid it.
Oh yeah… I’m talking about the people who greet the winter with genuine awe and disbelief like it’s the very first time.
You know who you are…and you know you do it…
No matter how many time I run through it in my brain, I just can’t figure out why it keeps happening. I try to tell myself that it’ll be different this year. Surely these people know what winter in the Midwest is. They know that snow is cold. Yet, I’m always treated to the same orchestra of asinine comments.
They act like the concept of sub-zero is something out Science Fiction.
They act like they’ve never seen snow before (and certainly drive like it).
They make the same bad wind chill joke or perhaps a clever reference that involves a witch’s breast.
They whine and complain till the crocodile tears are frozen to their bewildered face.
Friends and Coworkers. Kids and old folks. No one is exempt from the flash mob of stupidity.
Everyone you see… does it.
Everywhere you turn… there they are.
Every conversation you’re in… there it is.
Are you really that surprised?
Even if you were raised on the Equator and you’ve only seen this kind of winter in TV and Movies… don’t you still have a pretty good idea what it’s all about? You get the concept of cold. Yet, people who’ve never left Big 10 country (sports reference FTW) treat every flake like Jeff Bridges in Starman.
So why do they do it?
Are memories that short?
In Michigan, it’s only NOT cold four or five months out of the year most of the time. Have you already forgotten what it feels like? Did you need to be reminded that shoveling snow is not fun? Do we need another feature on the 11 o’clock News about “turning into the skid” or packing an emergency blanket in the trunk? We’re being talked down to on the TV when the first flake hits because we’re behaving like this is an all new experience.
If you makes you feel any better… you’re not alone. As humans, we love to bury our head in the sand (or snow) and ignore what experience tells us simply so we can have a reaction to it.
Why do you never check your car for an umbrella until it’s pouring? It’s the spring and it could rain at any time. You’ve been rained on before. But we wait until that moment to react.
Why do they sell so many snow shovels and snow blowers the day AFTER the first big snow? If you own sidewalk in the Midwest, you should own a shovel already. But we wait until the moment to react.
And what about you?
You’re probably going through it right now. We’re still only a few weeks past the New Year. A lot of you are still going strong on all of those resolutions. Gym is still packed. Smoking area is a little emptier. Your liver is back to a normal size.
And, for most of us, this isn’t the first time.
We’ve quit before.
We’ve committed before.
We’ve invested the time and effort before.
Yet… you act like you didn’t know it was going to be hard. You pretend that this is the absolute worst thing ever. You wonder how you can possibly survive it.
Then you forget about it…. or at least pretend to forget about it. Put it in the back of your mind. Then when January rolls around again… you’ll have something to react to.
The cold hard truth is that nearly every time we fail it’s because we choose to. It’s not our first winter. It’s not our first storm. We’ve lived through it over and over and over again.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time to act… not react.
It’s time to make the conscious decision that this is the last time you’re going to pretend that it’s the first.
Stop failing just so you can keep trying!
Is that cold enough for you?