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May 22, 2017

8:49 PM

Snow, parties, concerns, and the future

Francisco Miraval

A significant snow storm recently covered Colorado, even when the calendar says spring has been here for almost two months. The storm seemed to divide local residents into two groups: those who know snow may fall in Colorado even in May and, therefore, were ready for the storm, and those who decided to ignore the warnings and later faced unwanted problems.

As somebody told me, the second group “expected a party and the snow storm caught them”. Obviously, we are not talking here about festive gatherings, but about abandoning those priorities we should really pay attention, instead of spending time in superficial fun.

“Party”, in this case, is not the “healthy fun” we all like to enjoy, but a “dangerous distraction”, such as the risky distractions we see when somebody is driving and at the same time texting, or eating, or playing music, or paying attention to everything else but the road.

“Party”, then, has here a symbolic meaning. And “snow” is also a symbol. In fact, the rapid change in the weather in Colorado (caused mainly for the Rocky Mountains) from a nice day to a snowy day could be a symbol of unexpected and sudden changes in our lives, caused mainly for forces beyond our control, but that we should have anticipated if we were not distracted.

In that regard. “snow” ruins our “careless life”. And unending “partying” also ruins our life because it is just escapism with no intention of preparing ourselves for our future.

In the context of both the Judeo-Christian and the Greco-Roman traditions it was emphasized the need to become aware of our personal circumstances, including the fact that, at least in our present context, our life will end one day. Those traditions encourage us to take the precautions we need to take.

“Becoming aware of your personal circumstances” was called “cura” in Latin, usually translated as “concern” or “care”. Caring for ourselves and those around as is normal, expected, and healthy. It means assuming the responsibilities we need to assume.

The old traditions also speak against worrying too much (anxiety, angst) because that could lead to unwanted and even pathological results. For example, if you only care about yourself, you could become a destructive narcissist. And if you worry too much about the future, you may be paralyzed in the present every time you need to make any decision.

If excessive concern is dangerous, being careless is also dangerous, like refusing to accept a snow storm is coming to Colorado just because we are already in spring.

The paradox is that the ancient traditions simultaneously teach we can’t live without concerns or cares, and, at the same time, we should allow those concerns to become the center of our lives.

Those two lessons appear to contradict each other yet, if we want to apply both teachings to our lives, we will discover they force us to acknowledge the different dimensions of our true self, where snow, party, care, and the future become one. 

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