School is a normal part of human life, but what many people don’t realize is that there exist schools in the clouds called Cloud School; as you can tell by the name, creativity isn’t their strength. Unlike normal schools, cloud school didn’t have a set timeline for graduation. It changed with each class with longer or shorter gaps between graduations. Sometimes classes are bigger or smaller than others. Sometimes students are lazy and fall as rain, or they’re particularly mean and they fall as hail. The best classes, however, graduate as gentle snowflakes. In case you aren’t aware, the ultimate goal of a snowflake class is to help make a city look beautiful as the fresh coating of snow makes everything look clean and sparkling. Dirt and grime temporarily vanish under the beautiful white blanket. To achieve snowflake status you have to be driven and hardworking, which means there’s normally an underlying desire to do something great. No one had a greater desire for this than Susie. Susie was the smartest and most talented snowflake in cloud school. Not only was she the top student, everyone liked her, which is incredibly rare for those who are the best at something. Normally snowflakes are like people and they get jealous of those at the top. In Susie’s case, however, she was such a kind snowflake you couldn’t help but love her. In fact, there was only one snowflake who didn’t love Susie and that was… Susie. Susie was incredibly hard on herself, and never felt good enough to be liked by others. As kind as she was to everyone else, she was equally mean to herself because she was so worried about being accepted by others and not being judged. Susie’s dream was to feel good enough for her to like herself, and she believed this could only happen if she was able make a city beautiful all on her own. The fact that it was believed impossible didn’t matter; she was going to do it on her own. She needed to do it on her own.
When the bell sounded to announce it was graduation day for Susie’s class, all of the students assembled together in order to be released… all of the students gathered except for Susie. Susie had snuck to the glass exit doors that had previously always been blocked by another set of doors so you couldn’t see out into the world. This was the first time she was able to see the city below and it was surprisingly tiny. Susie was filled with excitement; she had worked so hard and was by far the biggest snowflake the school had produced. The city was so small; she’d easily be able to cover it.
Double checking to see that no one was looking, Susie took a deep breath, opened the doors, closed her eyes, and… jumped. She kept her eyes closed as she felt the wind on her face. It was spectacular. It was everything she dreamed it would be. After a few minutes, she confidently opened her eyes… and her excitement was instantly replaced with panic. The more she fell, the bigger the city got. In her cloud, the city looked so small, but as she got closer she realized how big it was and how small she was.
Susie eventually landed on a tree where her fears were confirmed; she wasn’t just a speck in the city, she was a speck in the tree that was a speck in the city. She thought she could do it herself, but she failed. Even worse, she could feel herself shrinking as the warmth of the tree was too much for her. Broken hearted, Susie closed her eyes and started to cry. She didn’t know how long she cried for, but suddenly she felt a tap on her side. It was Sally her classmate. Sally was smiling, “There you are. We were all looking for you at graduation. What happened?”
Unable to hide the embarrassment, Susie replied, “I… I jumped early… I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I wanted to prove that I could make the world beautiful on my own.”
Sally was surprised. “Why would you want to do that?”
Susie responded, “I wanted to prove myself, but instead I learned how pathetic I am.”
Sally got closer and calmly said, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. This is amazing!” Susie was taken aback as Sally continued, “Finally Susie isn’t perfect and screws something up. You were always the best at everything. Do you know how annoying that is for everyone else, especially when you’re so likeable? I always felt like a failure compared to you.” Susie was incredibly confused. She made people feel bad? How? She was just trying to prove herself. While Susie was thinking, Sally continued, “Don’t worry; I got eventually got over my inadequacy feelings because I realized whether you’re the best or not doesn’t matter. We all need each other to reach our full potential; you needed me to be your best, and I needed you.” Susie looked around. Sally was right. The city was now covered in a beautiful white blanket. It didn’t matter how good or bad anyone was, as long as the class worked together, they were able to make the city beautiful. Sally paused as if she was letting this thought settle in before she continued, “You’re a snowflake; you’re one of a million, and that’s a wonderful thing. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone; just do your part and enjoy connecting with others as you do it.
Susie continued to look around and realized that it’s never been about her. She was just a speck among many other specks, and she suddenly felt a weight lift off her back. She was the best at everything in her class except for the two things that really mattered: liking yourself, and working with others. If she hadn’t spent so much time worrying about being the best she could have enjoyed her schooling more. She started to feel guilty for how wrong she’d been living when Sally interrupted her thoughts, “And in case you’re now beating yourself up for not seeing this sooner, remember that the past is great for teaching us lessons for how to be better now. There’s no point living in regret. Right now you should simply enjoy all the beauty that is around you. Every moment you’re alive might be the best moment you’re ever going to have the rest of your life, so look for the good in it and try to enjoy it.” And with that final thought, Susie and Sally looked out across the city and enjoyed how beautiful it looked, and they felt proud to be part of a community who were able to make the city so beautiful even for just a moment.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people