Today I biked in the snow. Not something that happens very often in San Francisco. Stuck out my tongue and drank in the flakes while swerving around a few ice patches. Arrived with pants splattered with mud, backpack frosted with white, wet gloves and chilled fingers— and yet happy as a kid playing…well, out in the first snow.
Before coming to Salzburg, I looked at the weather predictions and groaned. I was happily welcoming Spring in San Francisco, the plums having peaked, cherries on their way and first leaves on the deciduous trees I pass each day to school. Why was I going to Salzburg where Winter still ruled? Who wants to be in a cold climate, bundling and unbundling, walking with the wind whipping on your frozen face, trudging through snow turned to slush, biking on ice patches squinting between the snow flakes? I’m too old for that crap!
Or so I thought. Turns out I love it! Well, at least in small doses. When I woke up this morning and saw the first snowflakes, my New Jersey childhood memories were triggered and I remembered just how magical it is. And how good it feels to be cold and wet and come in to dry off at the fire with the requisite hot chocolate and such. Put on soft lights and listen to Schubert’s Trout Quintet and feel the world wrap around you.
Why are we so obsessed with being constantly comfortable? The hot chocolate tastes better and the Schubert sounds truer if we earn it by some sense of battling the elements, of facing cold, wetness, hunger, leg pain from the long walk or bike ride. I tell the people coming face-to-face with their own frustrations, challenges and insecurities in my workshops that the practice is to become comfortable with discomfort, in any of its many shapes or forms. The “discomfort zone” is where a lot of the great stuff happens.
As always, I need to listen to my own advice. At my age, the Florida retirement doesn’t sound as absurd as it used to, but it’s heartening to know that I can enjoy something so inconvenient, dangerous, wild and damn fun as riding a bike in the snow.