Finding Joy in the Dust of Snow – New Year Resolution

Author: Atif Munawar Mir

Popular New Year resolutions such as losing weight, taking a trip, finding a better job, and giving up a bad habit are worth our time and effort. But I think that there should also be in our list of New Year Resolutions, a goal that can be achieved every day, every hour and every moment without spending money and wasting energy.  I got the idea of such a resolution from the following poem written by Robert Frost:

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock of tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued

In western literature, the crow is a symbol usually associated with battlefields and death. Snow, on the other hand, stands for purity and spirituality. The poet understandably does not define purity and spirituality as he doesn’t want to restrict the message of his poem to any particular faith, geography or time.

This poem is extraordinarily elegant and it can be interpreted in various ways.  But its essence is simple. It reminds us that the sting of difficult circumstances and life’s struggles can be lessened when we open ourselves up to simple joys.  And ironically, these simple joys are sometimes embedded in the unhappiness that we experience.  Frost demonstrates immense faith in the power of purity (symbolized by snow), so much so that he pits it against death and destruction (symbolized by the crow), and despite the seemingly fragile nature of purity, it carries power enough to withstand the onslaught of death and alter our experience of existence.   The poet suggests that even in the midst of great pains and suffering, we can experience or reach out for small joys which can change our state of mind, perspectives of our troubles, and perhaps transform our very lives.

In the same vein, The Master Sufi/Poet Rumi reminds us in his poem that sometimes we spend too much time looking for happiness even as it stands right before us. He says:

It is said that God’s light

comes from six directions.

From where asks the crowd,

turning left and right.

If only you could look neither way

for a moment. [1]

The poem suggests that sometimes joys are sitting in the palm of our hands but we search for them elsewhere. We can find pleasure by savoring a piece of fruit, taking a walk in the park or having a meaningful conversation with a family member or a friend.  It is important that we do not save our appreciation for families and friends until we write their eulogies.

Happiness is acquired by making the simplest yet insightful observations about nature and life. There is nothing wrong with a life spent pursuing grand passions as long as we do not ignore appreciating minor blessings.  Looking for joy in the laughter of a child, in a light summer drizzle, in the sound of the waves and the wind, and in the tranquil silence after a snowfall induces a sense of well being and contentment.

Appreciation of small joys gives us the strength to break away, even if momentarily, from the past, unplugs us from the torments of the present, and takes away the yearning of the future.

We can choose to be happy now by opening our heart to the beauty and blessings all around us. So, my New Year resolution this year will be to appreciate snow in winter, flowers in spring, sun in summer, and the colorful leaves in autumn and to thank God everyday for creating such an immense and mysterious canvas of creation and filling it with stars, mountains, oceans, trees and all the little things that lend great beauty to our lives.

[1] Mafi, Maryam & Kolin, Azima Melita, “Rumi’s Little Book of Love”, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 2009,  p. 22

3 replies

  1. “And He gave you all that you wanted of Him; and if you try to count the favors of Allah, you will not be able to number them. Indeed, man is very unjust, very ungrateful.” (Al Quran 14:35)

  2. Thank you for sharing this tremendously beautiful insight. In the gratitude we show for smaller blessings we are sure to become blessed with a less miserable existence.

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