Recently in Utah, like many places across the United States, we have seen some magnificent storms roll in. Last week, as the storms began to wane, I heard a radio report indicating that we had received as much snow in the month as we normally receive throughout the entire winter season and then some. Along with the snow came shoveling, an activity which I have come to dread. On one particular night, my youngest son shoveled prior to my coming home and then together we shoveled again. Shortly after that, the plow came along our street and deposited a small snow berm between our driveway and the street. It was late, so my son and I looked at it, mentioned how glad we were that it wasn’t as deep as it could have been, and went to bed.
The next day, instead of digging up the berm, we just drove over it, packing it down and turning previously light and fluffy snow into hard pack. over several days, this hard pack turned into a sheet of ice. It was then that I realized that I had made an error, and I enlisted my son’s help in correcting the problem.
We took our two sturdiest shovels and some snow melt crystals and went to work. And bone jarring work it was. I took time to teach him the best techniques to break apart the ice sheet, now several inches thick. The chunks broke apart in a somewhat satisfying display of manliness and brute strength. After nearly an hour, with the ice diminished but not completely gone, we halted our work for lunch.
Now, several days later, I can’t help but think how much that experience is like so many other things in life. I often find myself looking at tasks that seem easy, so easy that I put them off for later, only to realize that the best time to have taken care of them was immediately. When postponed, easy tasks somehow become harder, more challenging, often needlessly so. by postponing 15 minutes of easy work for another time, we make for ourselves hours of backbreaking work at another. And while the results are sometimes easy to duplicate, one way or another, there are times when tasks postponed result in damaged relationships or missed opportunities that may never come again.
I don’t know what my son is learning from this little exercise. I am learning two things. The first is that the best time to take care of a problem is earlier rather than later. The second is the importance of really good ice melt.