Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Walking in the winter evening can be beautiful. The silent crunch of foot steps slow down to enjoy the view as the stars reflect off the snow hills, and the beauty of the falling snow. And if you're able to see the prairies, the snow fields sparkle for miles. The stars light up the sky, and it's magical. Its a time to reflect the beauty, to slow down and realize that although it's dark, there is light revealing our path. Enjoy and go slow.
Driving on the highway is a different story in the winter evenings. When it's dark, car lights seem to reflect off the snow, making it difficult to see. What if an animal jumps into our lane or a car in front of us suddenly swerves or stops in front of us? It's harder to stop on snow-packed roads, and of course, ice is even worse.
Highway driving in winter is always a challenge. Checking the weather for each town or city along the way can help us to prepare in knowing what to expect. In Manitoba, there are hills and valleys, which causes variables in the route. What starts out as a good trip can change drastically a few kilometers later.
This is what I found myself driving in recently. What started out as a good clear highway turned into a blowing snow storm white-out. The line of cars slowed down to 20 kms. With our 4-way flashers on, this was the only way we could see each other. Some cars and a double semi had hit the ditch, and other semis were pulling over. Ambulances were heading the other direction. There was a bright, white cloud that had completely filled the sky and met the horizon in front of us, and the blowing snow swirled around us. The tires were inching along the ice. It was a white-out.
By definition a white-out is a weather condition in a snow-covered area in which no object casts a shadow, the horizon cannot be seen, and only dark objects are discernible.
This is what we were driving in. The highway, the wind and the white cloud on the horizon cause everything to be bright white. We needed each other, so we could keep going. We were in this together. We could see the lights of the cars in front of us, which was a comfort, as a lighthouse would be in an ocean storm.
I wonder if when life is going well, like the clear highway in summer, we just travel along doing our own thing. We go where we need to, meeting our deadlines and not really focusing on what is happening around us. Sometimes on auto-pilot - its the highway of life. Same drive as yesterday -looks the same, feels the same.
But, when the weather changes, and it becomes a bit risky, dangerous, or challenging, we slow down, more aware of our surroundings. There's a bend in the road, a surprise icy patch, or maybe a sudden stop. Sometimes we can't see anything in front of us. We look out for each other, ask for directions, and we become aware of how our "light" can guide others. There are the drivers who pull over to help when someone gets stuck, but we are also aware of the ones who are causing the snow to fly into the face of others as they pass by, focused only on their own destination.
Are we prepared? Sometimes we know they're coming, but in other cases they show up unexpectedly and we've been blind-sided! We'll all experience some sort of storm. It seems we're either just entering a storm, in the middle of one, or are driving out of one. That's life. Maybe its a job loss? A divorce? A death? Or a betrayal? Will we meet it with fear and anxiety or, in the process, will we find the our strength to walk through it to the other side?
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Walt Emerson.
Life is a journey. Sometimes it's a smooth ride and then even the best made plans drive us into the storms of life. We need to make sure we know where we're going, who we're following, and we need to choose our travel companions wisely. Are you prepared for when your next storm hits?