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The Futility in Fragility, and Doing It Anyway

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
— Sting, Fragile

Pushing snow off a driveway in an active snowstorm is an act in futility, displayed for all to see in the snowflakes quickly filling the void, relentlessly stalking you and the shovel down the pavement. Best to wait until it ends, clear it all at once with a snowblower, or a plow, or perhaps not at all if the forecast offers hope of melting days to come. But that’s not me. I clear the way, accept the temporary nature of my labor, and retreat inside to let the falling snow erase my work. Until I do it all again. Such is the way with fragile things. We’re all temporary, despite our efforts, but we may leave a mark nonetheless.

Perhaps nobody knows fragility and futility like a snow shoveler. Perhaps. Tell that to the soldier. Tell that to the climate activist. Tell that to the writer. Everything is futile, at least until we prove it otherwise. Everything is fragile. Tell me otherwise.

But there’s meaning in the work. And so we do it anyway. Again and again.

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  1. We always shovel a few times during a snow storm. We do not have a show blower. Just finished scrapping the ice off my driveway last night to get ready for today’s storm. Great to be back from a Florida vacation.

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