Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow: A Metaphor for Life.

I've wanted to blog about my reaction to this year's winter so far for a long time, but have had trouble working up the energy to do so. This seems symbolic for a lot of things over the past five weeks.

Since the Christmas blizzard of 2010, winter has been one long battle against the elements. With the threat of snow constantly hanging over our heads--and each promised storm delivering on these threats--even the simplest tasks, like getting to work, become much more difficult. Forecasts contribute to this dreadful sense of anticipation days beforehand, so that people are consumed by a sense of anxiety, as they ponder the various "what-ifs" when trying to work out how they'll manage to fulfill the everyday tasks that will still be expected of them. "How will I get to work?" "How will I get home?" "How will I walk my dog?" "What if my car gets stuck?" "Will public transportation be running?" "Will daycare/schools be open?" All of these things, so mundane and taken for granted on a regular day, can bring an entire family, and even an entire city, to a standstill. The sense of helplessness and frustration has become tangible, a living, breathing entity hovering around everyone, something that refuses to be ignored as one storm is dealt with and the next threat materializes.

This seems to be a metaphor for many of the issues I've struggled against for years. I have MAJOR control issues, and constantly rage against my feelings of helplessness over the things I cannot control, and how I seem to be held accountable for them anyway: how can I get my students to study for exams? How can I get my students to do their homework? Why won't some of them even show up to class, or for their Regents exams? Because I cannot answer these questions, because I have VERY limited control over these things, I am left with feelings of frustration and anxiety: how will my passing percentages affect my job security, and so on? These feelings of helplessness and frustration are only magnified by issues affecting the city at large: Mayor Bloomberg hires TWO bureaucrats to run the Department of Education, yet says that he needs to fire six thousand teachers, among other city employees, in order to balance the city's budget. The United States Congress is taking aim at Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, things that I have paid into since I first started earning a paycheck at 16 years old--things that I have had no choice BUT to pay into. And now there are people who want to take these things away from us, essentially stealing the thousands of dollars that I and other Americans like me have paid for it. The federal government talks of removing mortgages as a federal tax deduction, making it just that much more difficult for homeowners to keep their homes. And those people who are most affected by these issues are the ones who have the least control over the outcomes.

This is a very difficult time in which to live, financially. Perhaps the snow is a physical manifestation of this difficulty. Certainly, the unhappiness etched on the faces of millions of Americans is a familiar sight, mostly because I know that it's mirrored on my own. And yet, as I watch the children enjoy playing in the snow, I wonder if there isn't a message in that for us all; children's lives are not without worry, but are still much simpler. Kids take such delight in the little joys of life, and do not worry about the things over which they have no control. They just take things like snow as they come, and make the most out of each joyful moment, rather than worrying about what may be in the future.
Maybe we all should try to be more like our children.

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