Dust of Snow by Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
It has been an interesting weekend, starting with an all-nighter caring for a sick child on Friday and ending in the first of two company parties yesterday evening. What was sandwiched in between was, in a word, rueful: a dead HVAC unit, a minor flood in the office, my recuperating hawk perching on my shoulder and then head and finally a close friend’s new puppy diagnosed with parvovirus. Oh, that I had happened upon a crow and a hemlock tree!
On the bright side, Northeast Georgia (Dahlonega in particular) is experiencing unseasonably low temperatures and drumroll, please…snow! Having spent most of my childhood in colder climes, the freezing temps aren’t that big of a deal, though past injuries do seem to creak a little more than in summer and than in my youth.
Frost’s poem is delightful to me as I’ve often considered how a change in heart leads immediately to a change in mood. I was speaking with a yoga instructor friend of mine at dinner last night and she made an interesting statement. She said that most people take up yoga with a desire to gain physical flexibility but if they stick with it long enough they become more mentally end emotionally supple.
Mental and emotional resiliency come from the inside out. If you base your mood on what is going on outside of you, you will live life on a roller coaster. Your good moods will come when things are going well and your bad moods will rear their ugly head, well, the rest of the time. It doesn’t need to be that way.
You can use your heart radiantly as well as reactively. Most people emphasize the latter capacity, but those with true grit regularly exercise the former. The expression of radiance does not require more exertion, in fact, it comes as a result of greater relaxation.
Unrelieved tension is the nemesis of radiance. You cannot try to be radiant. You either are or you aren’t. Engaging in regular changes of pace, such as yoga or massage, when you lead an otherwise busy, go-getter life, generates valuable space in heart and mind that lead, in turn, to a greater expression of radiance.
Wise, stable and sane is the person who cultivates this balance, a balance achieved, incidentally, through oscillation between rest and exertion or put differently, between “being” and “achieving.” Foolish, unstable and nuts is the person who relies solely on cues from the environment to determine the state of his heart and subsequently his mood.
Radiance comes from an inexhaustible source deep within. When you truly understand this you won’t rue another day. Some days will provide more openings than others and if you’re lucky and you’ve forgotten that every day is an opportunity for radiance, you might just be lucky enough to be sprinkled by the dust of snow from a hemlock tree as a gentle reminder!