Snowball Fight in Madrid

Last week a freak storm dumped up to a foot of snow on the capitol of Spain. You can be forgiven if this bit of news never landed, given everyone’s preoccupation with another capitol that was under siege around the same time. I was stunned, then horrified and then disgusted by what unfolded last Wednesday in Washington, D.C. I’m still repulsed, but to help break the vicious cycle of ill thoughts swirling in my head, I’m learning how to redirect such negativity to brighter moments—like impromptu snowball fights on the streets of Madrid.


Spaniards came out to enjoy the rare weather Storm Filomena provided, and at various points people packed together snow and playfully hurled it at people nearby. Dozens joined in and as a result, we got to experience (virtually) something that’s been lacking for way too long here in the United States: pure joy. They threw snowballs at strangers in a city plaza and pelted some guy as he skied through a gauntlet of ‘ballers, with people laughing and cheering him the whole way. 


It took those scenes in Madrid for me to realize how little communal happiness we’ve experienced in almost a year. It’s just one lousy milestone after another. Of course, I live where the coronavirus is ravaging families and forcing care rationing to the north of us. Let that sink in for a moment: We are at a point where physicians and emergency personnel must decide who deserves a chance at life and who is doomed to die. 


So here is how the year starts. With me surrounded by death, in the news and in my own neighborhood. I can’t even run off the anxiety right now because I donated a pint of blood the other day, so I need to take it easy a few days longer. 


When epidemiologists warned this would be a terrible winter, I thought they are exaggerating. But now I see how accurate they were. Their modeling is amazing. We are still dealing with both an out-of-control virus and debilitating ignorance/arrogance that prevents this deadly contagion from killing so many mothers, fathers, grandparents, even children. We are still weighing what to do with radicalized relatives on both political extremes prepared to pull us into civil war. Too many of us grapple with physical and mental health issues now obvious to others. And I, for one, am no longer willing to indulge friends whose words inflict wounds.


The pandemic will eventually pass. The noise generated by the misguided will be drowned out by those with better intentions.  And as for those friendships, right now I’d give the chance of me reversing course a snowball’s chance in you-know-where. 

Photo by Cami Henry courtesy of Pexels

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