Warm up to acceptance — it makes winter easier to handle

It’s been a long, cold, snowy winter. With record snowfalls so early in November, some days it seemed like winter was here to stay forever. The first day of spring came and went, and while daytime highs rose, the melt was abated by night-time lows, and further stammered by more snowfall.

In reviewing old photos, on the same day a few years back, my daughter crouched in the grass in the backyard at our old house, surrounded by crocuses. Back to looking out the window, there is no sign of the crocuses, let alone a sign of dirt or grass.

We’re facing negative Celsius temperatures a week into April, and the forecast leaves little to look forward to. But, I’m finally at peace with it. Even though my motorcycle will remain in park for weeks to come, I’ve taken to enjoying winter as much as possible before it is gone.

Not to get too deep, but, life is truly fleeting. So many seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years have disappeared, often as I wished them away. I wanted it to be warmer, I wanted to be older, I wanted to be wiser, I wanted to be something I wasn’t, to be somewhere I wasn’t, with someone I wasn’t with, I wanted to be less wise, I wanted to be younger, I wanted it to be cooler.

Only in accepting myself and my surroundings, realizing that I didn’t have to be anywhere in particular and I didn’t have to be anything to anyone, did my crocus break through the snow.

It was a rebirth of perspective. Life became more colourful and richer. Hurts and disappointments were smaller; as I realized they had less to do with me than I used to think.

And so the winter became easier to handle. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s simpler to enjoy shovelling the front steps now that I know winter is on the way out. Next year I’ll try to get to this place sooner, but I could put my perspective in play, I still had time to enjoy the snow.

This winter, I’ve been out skiing more, snowshoeing more, and while I didn’t make it skating, I dawned a different pair of “blades” and went ice climbing this year.

Ice climbing requires a combination of equipment, expert instruction, not to mention a bit of skill. It’s crampons and ice axes, rope, carabiners, harnesses, climbing boots, and eye protection. As for the instruction, you need someone who can teach you skills, provide a positive environment, and keep you safe.

Luckily, you can hire the equipment and expert instruction. Then it gets tricky: you need to bring one part upper body strength and three parts mental fortitude.

Our instructor quoted Sir Edmund Hillary and said: “My fears grow smaller with every step I take towards them.”

It’s hard to put your faith in just that thin little rope (even if it can hold the weight of a car) and it’s even harder to put your life in the person’s hands who is at the other end of the rope.

I remind myself that approaching the ice wall is a step toward conquering my fear of heights and of falling. As I place my ice axes and kick in my feet, I’m climbing.

The way this activity parallels life is not lost on me. People can help prepare you for tough times in life, but you’re alone on that ice wall. You will have a better time, even in the worst times, when you surround yourself with climbers who are positive and encouraging. Having faith, and trusting the person you are tied to, helps you overcome anything.

Even if spring has yet to do so outside, my spring is external. I’ve channelled my inner crocus.

If you’re looking to enjoy the last legs of winter, we had a great family snowshoe up to the Kiwanis pancake and sausage breakfast last weekend. It’s a perfect combo of outdoors and reward.

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