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Friday, 8 February 2013

Things which bother me: Complaining about the weather

I used to read Archie comics as a kid, and by far my favourite character was Jughead Jones. The Snoopy of Riverdale, Jughead was always cool, always nonchalant and he comes to mind as Toronto celebrates/scorns another "Snowmageddon".

On the cover of one of the comic books, Jughead offers this advice: "Don't be angry with the weather; it has started many a conversation." These come as calming words when faced with Facebook feeds and Twitter posts about the inconvenience the weather has caused.

Over the past couple of days, Toronto has been buried under a constant snowfall. Currently, the weather report claims that over 20 cm has fallen upon this city, and as usual, there is much talk of this city's capacity or incapacity to deal with the situation. As Toronto seems to be slowing to a standstill, other Canadian cities are mocking us for our concern.

We're Canadian! Snow, winter, it's all part of our national and international identity. I've listened to a lot of different ideas on what it means to be Canadian, and while I won't go into presenting a clear-cut definition, it would be hard to argue that experience with snow would fail to enter into that definition, somewhere.

Don't get me wrong, heavy snowfall can be inconvenient. Cold temperatures, dangerous driving conditions, slippery sidewalks, slower traffic/public transit standstills, and all the inconvenience of having to clear cars and driveways of all that snow, of course winter can be inconvenient.

But, we're tougher than this. Our ancestors were either those who helped clear this land, or those who traveled here from afar. We're a country full of hard-working, extremely stubborn, innovators. We carry a persona second only to stereotypical Russia in how tough and crazy we can be for dealing with extreme climates. And yet, when winter does decide to come around to Toronto, and probably other cities, do we brave the weather as our forebears did? Nope. We complain.

Now, there are several reasons why complaining about the weather is a foreign concept to me, and some of them don't exactly point out the fault in complaint.

The first is that I am young. When I go home, I do not have to be asked to shovel the drive-way, I do it because I am young, energetic, and because it needs to be done. Thankfully, our neighbour has a plow so my sister and I only end up doing about half of the usual job.

The second reason, closely related to the first, is because I was raised to be hard-working. Descended from farmers, I laugh off the effort required for most tasks. I enjoy the productivity and satisfaction of a hard day's work. So, yeah, for those two reasons alone, I find any inconvenience simply to be a challenge worth taking.

The third reason is that I do not have a car. I do not have to suffer the usual inconveniences of transit. I don't have to clear my car of snow, I currently don't even have to clear a drive way. And because of taking mostly subway cars, I don't (usually) have to deal with traffic standstills. Even when I do, things are a lot easier to deal with when you don't have to pay attention. I can be free to read or fall asleep and thus the trip feels a lot faster.

A main reason is one which changes the tone of this rant from a derisive condemnation of a city's complaint to something a little more inspirational. I have too much of a spirit of adventure within me. I read fantasy, I play Dungeons and Dragons, I've seen The Lord of the Rings, and I wear a cape!

When I'm not preoccupied, I walk the streets of Toronto with my head held high, and with a gait of confidence. When I'm not wearing a cape, I move as if I am. I walk with the swagger of someone who treats all life as an adventure worth having. I weave in and out of crowds, keep a sharp eye on my surroundings, and relish the opportunity to be awesome.

I've read too many books like The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Moby Dick, and The Count of Monte Cristo to consider any journey too long, or too arduous. With or without my headphones on, my mind and body march along to inspirational classical music and soundtracks, especially this song is the journey looks to be a long one. When others complain about such trivial matters, I laugh it off, and try to show them that with the right attitude, anything is possible.

My final reason is that I am prepared. I am heading up to Richmond Hill tonight. I will have to take a subway and a Viva bus in order to get there. I will be taking my normal winter clothes (coat, toque, gloves, scarf) as well as my cape, and work boots. With that, and a few other choice items like 100 feet of 300 lb. strength parachute rope, some food and water, (things I just keep in my backpack because I'm silly AND prepared), I will leave early, knowing that it might take awhile, but I will get there, warm, dry, and smiling.

Most would rather a warm, sunny day right about now, but it's not what you've been dealt, so play your hand with confidence and guile, and I hope you find the strength to get through your day!

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