How people and snowflakes can make an impact
by Christy Armstrong
Feb 16, 2014 | 589 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This column came into being on a day when everyone was trying to predict the weather — to varying degrees of success.

The Southeast was set to receive a second round of snow in a matter of weeks. Funny to Northerners or not, this was a point of concern because people from around here aren’t used to snow, y’all.

While some people were watching the sky with childlike fascination as fat, fluffy snowflakes started to fall and continued their journey to the ground, others nervously looked up local weather forecasts on their computers and smartphones to see when they should be heading home.

Some were caught up in the moment of admiring the snow’s frosty beauty, while others were more focused on things like schedules and safety as they travel on the road.

I found myself torn between the two different perspectives. As the daughter of a man from Colorado and a woman from Michigan, I feel like I should be able to relax and enjoy the snow that we do get in Tennessee. As a born-and-raised Tennessean, snow also brings with it a certain degree of dread, what with the inexperienced drivers and the slippery roads and all.

That debate got me thinking about other things, about how we always try to predict the future of other things in our lives — to varying degrees of success.

We have two main choices in life: We can either look at the world around us and appreciate it, or we can worry about what the days ahead of us hold.

There is something to be said for optimism, for having the kind of positivity that allows one to see the beauty in things. People who have that quality are great to be around because they do not let themselves get too caught up with their worries.

With that view, the important thing is to enjoy life, and all the details will fall into place if one stays positive and focused and works hard.

There is also something to be said for having the pessimism — or perhaps the realism — to notice the things we need to avoid and point out what needs to change.

With that view, the most significant principle is to think things through now and enjoy them later. Hopefully, the enjoying part does happen, but it is secondary. It is important to first stay focused and work hard.

Both of those perspectives can be taken to unnecessary extremes, but they are all valuable to some extent.

Sparks may fly when people with differing personalities find out they disagree on something, but change rarely happens when people constantly remain satisfied with the current state of affairs.

Though it may be tempting to focus on how annoying someone’s differing view may be, it is important to remember that our differences are what make us function as a society.

When it comes down to it, we need each other. Like the unique snowflakes that can join together to blanket the ground, people with differing personalities can join together to change how things work.

Some people may not notice how lovely things like snow can be if not for the positive people in their lives. Others may recklessly skid off the road if not for the warnings of the more pessimistic (or perhaps realistic) people they spend time around.

Some may find there is a better way of doing something if they are actually willing to listen to the perspectives of those who think differently from the way they do.

Everyday situations — and even not-so-everyday ones like snow — can remind us of the differences in the personalities among us. That can sometimes create challenges, but it is ultimately a good thing.

When it comes to someone trying to predict what will happen in the future, the conclusions that are reached are most often based on people’s perceptions of how things have worked in the past.

Some say it “takes a village” to raise children or do any number of things, which can be true in some instances. What makes a village work is a collection of different personalities.

Remember that your unique perspective does matter, and your views on life, if shared in a respectful way, can contribute to something much greater than just you — the future of those around you.

We cannot change the past, but learning to treasure the uniqueness of those around us has the potential to make for some pretty wonderful futures.

There will always be disagreements, but you can choose to be part of trying to make things better rather than worse.