Zen Shoveling

Call me crazy, but I really enjoy shoveling snow.  There are a (very) few household chores which center me, calm me, and satisfy me, and shoveling is close to the top of that short list.  I was speaking to a friend the other day who shares some of my gratification in this particular job, with her satisfaction stemming from the finite nature of the task, the physical workout, and her ability to see progress along the way.

I certainly appreciate those aspects of the enterprise, and for me it goes even further.  There’s the simple freshness and beauty of a new snowfall.  There’s the dampening of background sound that occurs with a thick blanket of snow.  There’s the meditative nature of coordinating my breathing with the work of lifting the shovel, and of following the right-right-left-left patterns of evening out the muscle work on my two sides.  I like the detail of following the lines of the lawn along the driveway, widening the path a bit around the doors of the car. 

I appreciate the brief solitude as I begin the task, and then the teamwork as family members come outside to join me.  A few years ago we split the cost of a snowblower with our nextdoor neighbors, and they keep it at their house (we didn’t want to keep gasoline cans in our garage when the kids were young).  Very rarely do we make use of the machine – generally just when time is a big factor.  I don’t like the smell of the gasoline, the sound of the motor, or the vibration of the handle. 

I much prefer the brief, repetitive scrape of the shovel blade against the pavement, and the soft “thunk” of the snow as it’s dropped along the side of the path.  I enjoy the ability to focus on the signals given to me by my own body, speeding up and slowing down as my strength, endurance and energy directs me, resting frequently to breathe and to survey what I have completed and what is left to do.  I am one with my shovel.

*Note: Please check with your doctor to make sure you have no medical contraindications to shoveling snow if you decide to take this up.

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