Here's to the Hard Times

snowy barn hard times deep winter

Embracing the nature of winter.

Nothing good comes easy.

There’s something special about being in the throes of a deep and relentless winter. The skiing speaks for itself, of course, but it’s more than that. To thrive in harsh seasons requires grit and adaptation. Cold months are inherently inconvenient, especially to the non-skier. But with every long, brutal winter that passes, each of us gets tougher, more seasoned, and chiseled with a bit of character.

Modern-day living has distanced us from this process. No longer are we guaranteed days of hardship with the turning of a year. No longer does it require stalwart effort to make it till springtime. Nope, these times of reliable furnaces, advanced automobiles, and lightning-fast internet have made life so very easy. In many ways, easy is great, but I’m not convinced that it’s always better. Make no mistake: this is not a gripe against 21st-century technology—I have an iPhone and drive a newer vehicle—but merely an observation.

When it comes to winter, convenient day-to-day living takes us away from the natural rhythm of the season. Cold snaps and deep snows used to stop travel in its tracks. Now, unless we’re in the midst of some catastrophic storm, people count on getting from A to B, no matter how far, without hiccup. Again, not a bad thing on its own, but this trajectory of thinking leads to complacency. It leads to depending on everything always working out. It leads us to neglect nature. An easy existence in a perilous environment (which winter now offers) should bring about some level of hesitancy in everyone. If not, you will eventually be caught off guard.

Montana winters will do that. Those of us who’ve been here awhile know it, and if you’re just moving here, you soon will too. Hopefully, at least. This planet could be past the fiery tipping point, after all. But when it does come—that frigidly bitter winter of spectacular snowfall and epic temperature surges—revel in it. Instead of shying away and distracting yourself with technological luxuries, embrace the storm. There are many ways in which to do so, but it starts by going outside. Yes, you’re going to be cold and shiver and wince at unforgiving winds. Driving will suck and your back will hurt from shoveling. You’ll struggle, but you’ll survive—and therein lies fulfillment.

So, here’s to the hard times. Here’s to darkness and challenge and setback. And at the same time, here’s to the breakthrough. Here’s to face shots and powder turns and belly laughter next to a warm fire. Without sweating in the freezing cold, none of it would feel as good. Winter’s lessons are still out there for those who take the hard route. Bundle up and look for them. You’ll end up better because of it.