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remnants

“There also is a sense of animism in each found glove, and if it is made of leather, in the animal whose body it came from.” Shawn Skabelund's drawings are based on leather gloves he has been collecting for almost 30 years.

I think it’s safe to say most of us have our snow-shoveling techniques down cold by now. Personally, I belong to the “push-it-until-I-can’t-lift-it” school.

I was reared in the desert, so snow shoveling is not a skill my father taught me; digging in hard ground he taught me. Otherwise there was snow business like snow business like snow business I know...

If nobody taught me how to shovel snow, how did I learn to do it? Like most acquired knowledge, necessity was the mother of instruction. If I don’t shovel my driveway, I have a long walk to work. If I don’t get to work, I don’t make any money. If I don’t make any money... etc. etc.

When will that plow come by?

Shoveling snow is a personal matter, like shaving — You start where you start, and you finish where you finish. How you keep your nose hairs in check is not the point of this column.

Like shaving, you cannot teach someone how to shovel snow. You can show them how you shave, but they will have to shave themselves and, eventually, out of necessity, they will discover how to do it for themselves.

Which brings to mind a question I’ve been chewing on for a while now — what is it we are supposed to know?

The practical answer is we need to know the skills necessary to survive. Beyond that, we seek out skills to achieve our dreams, and most dreams have a monetary component. But what else are we supposed to know?

Does virtue still matter? Was George Bernard Shaw correct when he said “The lack of money is the root of all evil?” Who teaches us how to cope with a dying parent, with losing a job, with bankruptcy and scandal? What of envy, hatred, jealousy and cynicism? Are we home-schooled in these skills or do we acquire them via on-the-job training?

How often should we remind ourselves that everyone is carrying a heavy load, and that those loads shift, and that, eventually, everyone stumbles and falls? Do we even need to remember that?

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Maybe it’s not the “how” that is as important as is the “why.” Why be merciful? Eventually, we all require mercy. Why be just? Eventually, we all require justice. Why study calculus? Eventually, we all — I don’t know why we all should study calculus, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.

Much of my life has been led akin to walking along an icy sidewalk — I’m just trying to keep from falling on my keester. When I do see someone else fall, I don’t laugh. Rather, I think I sure hope that doesn’t happen to — whoops! Bang.

Once I’m back on my feet again, I might offer a word of caution to someone else — “It’s icy back there.” Whether that information saves another keester is out of my control.

If we can’t know anything else, at least remember — watch your step and lift with your legs.

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