ImageDespite the three feet of snow surrounding us, and more falling, we plodded our way down our now unfamiliar looking street to the sledding hill. The snow had changed the appearance of everything around us, creating the feeling that although we had walked it a thousand times, it was our first trip.

I discovered a few things during that short three block walk. First, It isn’t easy to blaze a trail through snow a yard deep. You have to have strong leg muscles, good lungs and patience. My husband, Marty was faring alright, although I did hear his breath getting heavier and heavier as we progressed.

Our son, Douglas had no problem at all. Although the snow was taller than he in places, he plunged on, laughing and joking the whole way. I followed more slowly, trying to pick my way in the footprints of those who went before me. Soon after our walk began, I discovered my snow boots had a small leak. Nothing huge, but big enough to allow snow to creep in and hide amidst my warm socks, melting and creating a soggy, cold wet feeling.

We finally arrived at the sledding hill. Marty and Douglas were off, constructing the “perfect jump” to plummet the sled over. I found a comfortable looking snow mound to settle in and watch. It was beautiful. Not many people had ventured out of their homes yet, and the subdivision was unusually silent. Snowflakes drifted down and settled on my coat. I looked at each separate flake, perfect in its formation, truly different from every other. At that moment in time, despite my sodden socks, the world felt right.

Then my eyes settled on a strange sight. There, in the snow, sat a pair of boots. No person in sight, just boots. They sat on top of the snow, so they were left after the blizzard, not before. It had taken us at least 30 minutes to hike through the unplowed streets and parking lots to get here.

So, where, I pondered, was the owner of the boots? And how, (asked the mom in me) did he get home?

As my imagination took over, I envisioned a child, eight or nine years old, sledding probably just a few short hours ago. He was having a great time, laughing and joking like my boys were doing right now – running up and down the hill, trying to catch the perfect air.

And then, like me, he discovered his boots had a leak in them. Trudging up the hill wasn’t so much fun anymore. Each step further drenched his socks and lowered his mood. It got so bad, he couldn’t stand it anymore. He had to make a change.

Now, if I asked any one of your reading this today what you would do at this point in the story, I’m sure you would say you would make your way home and THEN remove your boots. But not this child! Instead, he went straight to the root of his problem, the leaky boots, and removed them immediately. And, while this may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time, I’m sure he learned a valuable lesson during his journey home in socks even soggier than they were before.

As I stared at the abandoned boots, something became clear to me. In my struggle to achieve all that I plan to accomplish, I have often acted just like the boy with the leaky boots. Behaving on impulse. Sure that, at ALL times, action is better than no action. But, I realized that although action is a critical element to achieving any goal in life, at times, there is wisdom in NOT acting, in keeping my boots on. In fact, it is possible that a rash action can result in a situation even worse than I had in the first place.

As Marty and Douglas made their way back to me for our voyage home, I glanced one last time at the boots. The snow was increasing, burying them and their story before my eyes. I may never discover the answer to the mystery of the boots. But I will remember them often. And maybe, because of them, I’ll more often curb my tendency to act with no thought to the consequences. Instead, before pulling off those boots, I’ll think first of the long walk ahead of me. And make my decision from there.

~Sue Dickinson

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