Human Frailty; Human Impact


TL;DR: Getting old sucks. A little bit of effort in the past can lead to a result that takes significantly greater effort to achieve the same effect in the present. It doesn't take much to help your community be a better place.

Last week (January 31, 2021), we got around 4 inches of wet, heavy snow.

I don't recall how much shoveling I did, it wasn't much because what I did was enough to get this old back sore.

The next day I did some more shoveling. It was mostly the crosswalk across the railroad tracks I use to get to the post office. I live maybe 50 m from the post office, and I like to walk to it every day to get some exercise.

Even that little bit was enough to make my back unhappy. I did contemplate doing the other railroad crosswalk but dear reader, I just didn't want to because push my body that hard. I felt a little bad about not doing it because it really wasn't that much more work. I also didn't want to add that much more pain to myself.

Such is human frailty and selfishness.

I like to do a minimal amount of shovel of things like the stepping stones from our house to the parking pad where our cars are. Then around the cars, and our sidewalk. Also the path to our cottage and the warehouse where my "outside" work from home office is.

I do this because it exposes those stone/concrete/etc surfaces to the sun. Doing so unleashes the power of radiative heating. The sun just gets things hot enough to cause the snow to melt and evaporate. So, that little bit of shoveling made those surfaces basically ice free and more walkable.

A day or two after I shoveled the crosswalk I noticed some folks clearing the other railroad crosswalk using a front end loader/backhoe. This was because the weather slightly melted then froze the snow cover a couple of times. This made a shoveling it by hand a pain.

They were doing this because that is the crosswalk used by students dropped off there by the school bus.

I was clearing my crosswalk as much for me as others. I felt a little bad about not clearing the other crosswalk. I knew that a tiny bit of effort on my part would have created a nicer path for the kids walking home. I didn't really think about how little my effort would have been compared to two people and a decent sized bit of machinery.

It also demonstrated that a little bit of effort in the past can lead to a result that takes significantly greater effort to achieve the same effect in the present.

So, with today's snowfall of about an inch of light, fluffy snow I cleared the same surfaces I did before. I also did both crosswalks. Even though the tennis elbow flaring up in my right elbow was noticeable but not bad. Today my frailty wasn't so great that I couldn't do the small thing to make the world a tiny bit better for others. Hopefully it will also save lots of effort by someone else later.

Not a big lesson in there, other than confronting one's limitations, but understanding that even a small effort can lead to an outcome greater than the input.