Some new years have started off with a bang, but the only sound this year’s made so far has been the quiet gurgle of the space heater in my office. Record cold has hit the state again, you can’t even throw a cup of boiling water outside these days without hearing the term “polar vortex.”
Even my co-workers at my part-time job are feeling the chill. For years, we’ve held our annual winter garage sale outside, despite whatever mother nature threw at us. We’ve even been running a national ad campaign this winter urging people to get out and celebrate the holidays outside. Just as we were starting to plan our layering strategies to endure hours in the sub zero weather the word came down from upper management; we’d have the garage sale inside this year.
Trust me, times are tough when the outdoor company says it’s too cold to go outside.
It’s easy to fall into that trap, to stay inside another day, to keep waiting; waiting for it to warm up, waiting for something to happen; just waiting. The waiting doesn’t get you anywhere though, it’s the work you do when you don’t want to work that pays off in the end. Muhammad Ali once said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
It can be hard to look that far ahead, with winter’s endless darkness closing in, but with enough foresight you can see it if you look. The things we get done now, when our motivational tank is nearly empty is what will keep us going when the weather gets better.
And it will get better. No matter how far we might plunge into the depths of winter, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve already hit the winter solstice, the darkest day is behind us. It doesn’t always feel that way, especially when you’re unlocking the frozen door of your shop on the coldest night of year.
I got off to a slow start this year. The first couple of days into the new year, I spent lazing around the house, looking listlessly out the window in hopes that it would suddenly be sunny and 65. I knew I had to get moving, I had a shop full of unfinished projects waiting under the snow. I ran out of excuses last weekend, so after fortifying myself with a double strong pot of coffee I headed out to my shop to blow the dust off.
Ali was right, I hated every minute of it; at least for the first couple of hours. Even with the shop’s heater on full blast, it was still cold. Despite the coffee, I was still tired. As I started to clean and organize my tools to get started on the project my mind was like a slide show, filtering excuse after excuse past my brain, just looking for one that would stick. Looking around at the boxes stacked haphazardly I couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse.
Like Ali, I had some roadwork to do. If I was going to make the most of next summer then I needed to finish my projects this winter. Now was the time to tear apart the engine on my dirt bike so I can rebuild it this spring. I’d put the project off all summer, telling myself that it would be something to do when there wasn’t anything else to do this winter. Now winter was here, and I’d been busy inventing excuses instead of getting to work.
It’s a domino effect, if you don’t rebuild the engine and paint the frame this winter you won’t be riding trails in the wood with your friends the next summer. It’s easy to forget how much fun you’d miss out on next summer in the middle of the winter. Maybe it’s because those first dominoes fall so softly, the sound cushioned by the snow outside.
Contact David Dolmage at