carefully risking

With three blizzards and record snowfall this season—three separate storms dumping in excess of 20” each, there are numerous unaccustomed experiences for those of us here in Baltimore. Several have to do with driving—not so much the whole driving on snow thing, but driving on a four lane street never quite sure when snow might  compress the four lanes to three or two (and hoping you’re not driving four or three abreast when it does)—driving on what you thought was a two lane road now a one lane path with seven to ten foot walls of snow on either side, from which, at any time, a car, parked on the side of the road, invisible behind mounds of that snow, might emerge … or might appear up ahead coming toward you between the walls of snow around that bend in the road … and who will back up … to where? Or what about the experience of aiming to drive in ruts—worrying about the snow between the ruts being too high and frozen hard enough to damage the undercarriage of the car?

And then there’s the whole experience of pulling up to an intersection—out of a driveway, only to find yourself unable to see oncoming traffic because of the height of the snowbanks pushed up against both sides of all streets. And you have to risk easing out further than you’re accustomed to—out further than feels comfortable … or safe—leaning forward in your seat against your seatbelt, craning your neck for that first glimpse you’ve always taken for granted. But, the fact of the matter is, you simply cannot see—are unable to see—oncoming traffic from back where you’re used to stopping and looking … and seeing!

There’s a lesson within the experience of taking extra care even while taking greater risk. That spirit of aggressive care may not be entirely comfortable, but it’s a spirit we need—to adapt to ever-changing circumstance even when—especially when—circumstances are what we’re accustomed to—when what’s piled up, obstructing our view, is what we no longer see—what we take for granted.

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