Snow Globes. They can be held in your hands, upended and made to flurry, or left undisturbed on shelves to collect dust. In their sheltered dreamland, it is a perfect world. It’s easy to gaze at the figurines and landscapes, frozen in time, and imagine the worlds within as safe and peaceful. In fact, they are a luxury of unreality, too easily set back on a shelf when we tire of lazily descending flakes of white. Somehow we know we must not dream of a perfect world for long, without losing the edge and forward movement required to survive in the real world where we live—- one we’re always struggling to bring up to a higher plane, or usher into some sort of redemption.
Gazing into its mesmerizing dome is as much about finding a path of integrity and restoration for ourselves, as it is about discovering a greater community wherein values shared on the globe of our planet are embraced. The snow-globe’s glory is paradoxically found in its shaking. Somehow we are awakened as it is disturbed, and we are granted momentary visions of what is hoped for with all the sparkle and peacefulness the best of fantasies have to offer. Then, in its settling, we are afforded some small encouragement that all of our earthly effort to be shakers and movers will make a difference, and peace will finally overshadow the places we settle.
If you’ve ever experienced the breaking of a snow globe, there’s an unexplainable feeling of loss, much like our dearest dreams when shattered. We understand more profoundly the difference between fantasy and reality, though it is not pretty. Not only is a prized keepsake broken, but for a time our lives are broken as well, until new “snow globe” experiences appear on the horizon, calling us out of a state of mind where hope seems to have withdrawn and we feel shut out of living by a hardened shell of another kind.
To fill the void of broken dreams, we seek out experiences similar to snow-globe gazing. Saving and revisiting pictures, as we search out the things that gave meaning to our lives with other people and special times, gives us some sort of foundation on which to grow. Perhaps these kinds of meditative reviews, like snow-globe gazing, provide a way to remember happier moments in life that made difficult passages bearable.
While editing hundreds of photos taken during a road trip out to the west coast and back to a central part of the US, waiting on a farm to sell and responses to job applications, I came to understand: it’s not a job I live for, but the experiences of traveling and meeting new people from varied backgrounds in various settings. It’s not work that earns me a place to call “home”, so much as it is a means to set out on new adventures and keep a healthy forward movement going. Breaks from work, whether for a day or several weeks at a time, allowed space and time to pause and reconsider things of true value in life. (Without disrespecting those who choose to work in order to maintain a home or a preferred standard of living, the “living” for me is in the going and meeting and doing new things with new people, who all have their own unique stories and perspectives.) While reviewing pictures taken over the past year, as I drove thousands of miles across our nation, stopping to spend time with friends and family, I realize I never want to trade those times for the routine and predictability of a work-a-day existence, at the expense of dulling a sense of adventure and the wonder of discovery.
Snow globes are nice for gazing at when all else fails, but how much more wonderful to break the mold and the form that holds everything inside a small space, and risk what’s beyond the globe’s boundaries. Snow globes are for dust collecting, and nick-knack dusting is just not for me.