Being the Norwegian-German-Irish-Pole of a Minnesotan that I am, I went outside for some fresh air on the last blissful Sunday afternoon of winter break.
It was a balmy 40 degrees when I departed for my walk. I wore my Beats by Dre for earmuffs, a light jacket for my torso, jeans and a ratty pair of tennis shoes for the leisurely stroll.
I live on a farm situated between the Boonies and the Sticks – there are just two “neighboring” homesteads within a mile radius of our house – the only company I had for my tour was my iPod and my mind.
As I walked a half mile north on the snowless gravel road towards the intersection of 180th and 250th, a song from Inception hummed into my ears.
As the dramatic melody of “Time” swelled into a crescendo, a deep sense of something came over me.
As the string ensemble flooded my being, I thought, “Dre! Your headphones’ amazing sound quality sure makes up for the fact that they cost twice as much as my Spectrum paycheck and don’t fit my head very well!”
Where I come from, every stretch of gravel between intersections is a mile long. I would travel four miles by going around the square block; a block where avenues run north and south, streets east and west.
On this easterly stint of my journey, I climbed the “ridge,” a gentle hill supposedly formed by Lake Agassiz millenniums ago. Atop the ridge I saw the unplowed, snow-covered minimum maintenance road ahead of me.
I could have turned around and had dry shoes. I could have. I trekked on.
At first, my slight frame and nimbleness kept me and my tennis shoes above the snow. It was actually a layer of ice and hardened snow that kept me from sinking into the drifts, but as I walked on, my confidence grew.
And then I shrunk as the ice gave out. Only ankle-deep in the snow, I ignorantly thought it wouldn’t get worse – how much snow could be on a road in January?
I blindly walked on with snow creeping into my shoes and up my pant legs. My iPod, I kid you not, shuffled to Coldplay’s “Trouble,” I stopped and looked around.
Still having a half of a mile to go before I turned south, I was beginning to labor – not like how a mother does, but more like my legs were tired.
An idea popped in my mind: run. I am preparing to run the half marathon this spring in Fargo. In order to make me feel like I should be training, I have started following inspirational running pages on Facebook.
On one guilt-provoking page, I saw a post about how runners spend the majority of their time gliding through the air while in full stride, not touching the ground (covered in snow.) Cue A Flock of Seagulls up on the iPod, for I ran.
For a moment, I thought that flying would work. Being the runner I have been for less than a year, I figured I could at least pound out this rough half mile before tackling the other mile.
Nope. My flight soon found the deepest snow I encountered, and I sank into near-kneecap depths of snow. I trudged to a halt; it was over.
My mind began to race. I thought about getting hypothermia on the nicest day of the year. I thought about why I didn’t own a pair of snowshoes.
I thought about Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” I thought about using my Tracfone minutes to call my dad and have him pick me up with the snowmobile. I nearly gave up.
But then I didn’t. No inspirational song came on through my Beats, nor did I have an epiphany. In fact, all I did was laugh – perhaps manically but not hysterically.
This stubborn softie who refused to turn around earlier would continue forward. Snow seeped through my jeans. My toes went tingly. My left leg moved in front of my right and my right in front of my left. All for what? To prove that I could.
Once I made it to the first finish line, at the intersection of 180th and 260th, I didn’t want to stop. I’d like to think this stint wasn’t as bad as the last because of my newfound confidence, but that’s malarkey; there weren’t as many snowbanks. The ones that were there, however, I conquered.
Once I found gravel, the stroll became easy. Walking westward, I enjoyed the sun sinking in the sky. I am a sucker for sunsets, along with using personal anecdotes to spin deeper tales. Although some of you may have found my struggles with walking and snowbanks riveting, I assure you there is a greater message behind this column.
Would you let your soul lead you into an adventure, even a cold and illogical one? When life gets you bogged down, do you turn around? Do you flee only to sink lower into your despair? Do you use Tracfone minutes to wave the white flag? Or do you walk on and move along? Life may be easier on plowed roads, but it isn’t as exciting. Keep moving forward, through snowbanks, spring semester and life. You might find out that it was worth the struggle.