The Snowflake Moment

Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment.

~ Thich Nhat Hahn

This morning my kids and I decided to walk to school in the snowfall. For the past several cold days, we have driven. While I wanted to avoid the potential hectic street parking and school drop off lines, walking in the snow sounded appealing. The kids, of course, were eager to put on boots, scarves and hats to make the trek. We’ve walked to school many times, but today was different…

About 2 minutes into our walk, my son stops and sticks out his tongue to capture the snow. My daughter follows his lead. In this moment all movement has become still. My mind stops planning my day and my body ceases to feel the rush of getting to school on time. With a smile, I stand still and breath in the sight of my children being present, connecting with nature. I am present, connected with my children and with nature. In this moment, we experience a peacefulness followed by joy.

Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment. 

Even though this pause was brief, its effect carried me throughout the morning. As I walked home from dropping off my kids, I had a bounce in my step and a consistent grin on my face. I sang “hello” to those I passed, making eye contact with each of them. As I turned down my street, which is near a preschool, I soaked up the glee of young children running on the snowy sidewalks. When I got home, I even joyfully shoveled my walkway and sidewalk. 

My morning did not start off so peacefully or joyfully.  Feeling weighed down by sadness, I struggled to get up. I overreacted with my kids. I simply failed to model kindness. The shift in how I related and responded to experience got me thinking about the uniqueness and impermanence of experience, as well as the power of pausing and breathing in the moment.

Snowflakes are unique in their shape and size. No two snowflakes are the same. This truth is well known. Snowflakes also never remain the same once they hit the ground or even the tongue. Snowflakes melt, connect to other snowflakes, and freeze into other shapes. Snowflakes, in essence, are not only unique but impermanent. So is true for our experiences.

Each experience is different and can never be replicated, even though it often does not feel this way. This acknowledgement can support our effort to let go and notice the new moment. My kids pausing encouraged me to experience the moment as it is–as a new experience. As I breathed in and appreciated the moment, my baggage of sadness and anger was dropped and changed as it hit the ground.

While the baggage will likely come back at some point, this brief morning experience has reminded me of something quite simple yet profound. If I can imagine the uniqueness of the snowflake and how it changes as it hits the ground, then maybe I can appreciate my experience for what it is–just a moment, one that I can not nor need to cling to or carry around. Every moment changes and when we pause, even for a second, we get a glimpse of its transformation. As we notice and appreciate this more, I believe we become more awake. And, we are more likely to experience moments of peace and joy.

My wish for today is for everyone to have the chance to stick out their tongue, capture a snowflake and appreciate that this is only a moment, but a wonderful moment.

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