Buddha sat on the north side of College Avenue and noted my hometown’s admirable response to the four noble truths.
The truth of suffering (gross winter weather) is that it comes in many forms — ice, snow, wind, sleet, arctic temperatures.
The root of suffering is desire (for warmer, sunnier days).
The cessation of suffering requires a detachment from this desire, a liberation from misery, an ability to find beauty and joy in the ice that coated your entire city and the snow that welded itself to the ground and the weekly forecast.
The last noble truth offers a path to the cessation of suffering through the eightfold path — right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
I’m not saying my friends and neighbors found nirvana this weekend, as they chipped away at the ice, double-scarfed themselves against the wind, and shoveled more snow.
But, I am saying the ice sculptures on College Avenue, particularly the Buddha, stand as beautiful metaphors.
Buddha didn’t say this, but he might have if he had lived through a winter in Wisconsin —
When the February winds carry unrelenting ice, you can shut your curtains and mope about the house, or you can carefully duck walk up and down College Avenue, breathe the fresh, woolen air and admire pure art.
Ice can be cold and menacing, but hold it up and it acts as a prism, carve it and it becomes a welcome piece of art.