The snow drifts into white dunes hugging the backside of Chicago rooftops. The sheets of white powder make silhouette of the power lines and the grey electrical barrels suspended above the alleyways. The wind stirs up the finest of the fallen snowflakes so that it looks almost like steam against the streetlamps.
I sit alone in the apartment. The radio gives good company, even though all the songs tonight are about loneliness or lost love. My chair faces the southern bay window. It is dark except for the closet light whose on off switch I haven’t been able to locate on any of the walls. It isn’t as lonesome as is sounds. Now that I settled in for the night, there is a tranquility provided by the blizzard outside. It would be a pleasure to share this tranquility with someone, but I’m fine with the solitude tonight.
I read Jack London, and for a moment I wish I had a malamute whose coat I could stroke. Then I remember what a labor it would be to have a dog in the city, in this sort of weather especially. Other people’s dogs are best. Metal scratches coarsely across concrete as Sisyphus and his snow shovel awaken me from such daydreamed wisdom.
Not having a television these past few weeks has been a real blessing. I have been dreading the decision of whether or not to disrupt the seclusion, the serenity, the lack of chaotic advertisements. I don’t want it to return. I have treasured the short stories both read and written. But, there is something seemingly inevitable to the succumbing to a television. Why? Perhaps, if I could cure one’s dependence to television I could cure the absence of reason and imagination so many of us suffer from today.
I watch the snow and my heart is light. My mind envisions a new fantastical skyline where the weather has obscured tonight’s Sears and Hancock and a dozen more towers between those two. Next, I imagine having a train car all to myself on the El. All the interior lights are extinguished, and I speed along El tracks like a hungry bird impervious to the cold air. I am moving at a wonderful speed, fast enough to get a bit of thrill, but not so fast as to miss tonight’s story of the streets parallel to my train’s track. And all the while in motion alone across the El tracks, so long as the motion is maintained, I become something holy. Myself becomes something sacred if only to myself. My mind folds upon itself aware all my senses and surroundings, but not so painfully conscious of the contradictions that usually keep me up late nights asking infinitive ‘what if’s.
I am thankful. I am thankful for the moment that that which is myself could find something holy in myself. Would I misplace so many of these moments if I surrendered to the inevitability of television? Would I still relish in the imaginative silences, a pleasure that my circumstance has led me to acquire? When it comes to the television, can I exercise discipline or am I susceptible to it as one addicted? This small bit of memoir I’ve written tonight, it is a small personal treasure like well made well earned origami. I am certain I would not have written it had I turned toward a television. I might not have even watched and appreciated the snow.