Late last night, I ventured out into the snow. The sky was pale, luminous, and opaque, and it seemed somehow closer to the earth. I walked for a while, and then paused in the middle of the street to gaze at snow passing through a nearby streetlamp's yellow glow. The absence of my footsteps' crunch crunch crunch allowed me to really listen in on other things. First, I heard the gentle plodding of snow on the brim of my hat. Then I heard the icy shimmering sound of snow falling on the trees, the houses, the sidewalk, everywhere, for what seemed like forever into the distance. I hadn't realized that snow made a sound. The sound of snow falling, snow on snow, seemed to bring far-off mountains, cities, and bare forests very close.
"Love one another." These words came into my head, and repeated themselves. How do I love people? I mean, how do I really love people? Yes, of course I love my friends and family. I even love and show love for friends of friends, acquaintances, students, co-workers, professors. Even my exes. But that's easy. Do I love and show love for complete strangers, especially those that usually receive no love? Do I open myself and give of myself generously, with heart in hand, or do I hurry past, awkwardly?
Then again, do I really show love for those I consider to be my friends? In my own house, there is someone whose frequent power trips and lack of tact really annoy me. I love him very much, but sometimes I complain about him behind his back. I also happily participate in conversations where others complain about him. Last night, in front of a dark tree drooping heavy with ice, I came face to face with my true intentions: in complaining about him, I'm actually hoping to fracture the community against him. I realized how often I sow discord, intentionally. This realization made me feel heavy and dry.
I closed my eyes. There it was again: snow, soft on the brim of my hat. I let the cold stillness into my skin.