13 January 2012

The Weather's Always Good

I've lived in many different places in my life, with all different kinds of weather.  I've lived in New England, where we got humidity in the summer and plenty of snow and ice in the winter; in San Diego, where we really had no winters to speak of and very mild summers.  I've lived in the Arizona desert, with temperatures in the 100's for months on end, and in the mountains, where it almost never got above 80 in the summers and where the winter storms were amazing in their intensity.  And one of the things I've learned from all this is quite simple:  the way that we see the weather has just as much to do with how we feel about it as the weather itself.

I remember ice storms and severe cold spells in New Hampshire that kept us indoors for three or four days in a row.  At first, it was tempting to complain about the weather, for it definitely was uncomfortable and nasty when we thought of things that we might like to be doing.  There was no going for walks, no cross-country skiing, no building of snowmen or snow forts.  But after a while I began to notice how nice it could be to have the opportunity to stay indoors, doing chores and working and reading books without feeling the need or any pressure to go outside and get something else done.  There was nothing else calling me to do it, and I was able to stay snug and warm in my home, doing things that I enjoyed doing but without the distraction of other things that needed doing.

I found the same thing in Tucson during the intense heat of the summer months--it was nice to stay in the air-conditioned home when the blistering temperatures outside prohibited us from doing some of the things we kind of wanted to do.  And even if we did go outside, as long as we didn't stay out too long, we were fine.  Of course, I have spent time working in the desert in the summer, loading trucks with rocks in 110-degree heat.  There was no indoors to escape to, so we simply found shade when we had to wait for the next truck to arrive.  Even that wasn't so bad, once we got used to it.

The weather of the world can be extreme and somewhat uncomfortable, but it's important that we keep in mind that it's not designed for our comfort or ease.  We're visitors to wherever it is that we may live, and as such, it's important that we accept the conditions that the places where we live offer us.  If we can do that, we can keep in mind that whatever today's weather is like is important for the place where we live--for the flora and the fauna, part of the world's complex and beautiful way of being.  And when we can accept whatever weather the world throws at us, then we're much less likely to find things to complain about--and to enjoy the ways that we find to compensate in our own ways for whatever the weather might be like today, for there really is no such things as "bad" weather.  It all is simply weather in the world's eyes.

Acceptance is not a talent you either have or don’t have.
It’s a learned response.  My meditation teacher made a great point
about the difference between a reaction and a response:  You may
not have control over your initial reaction to something, but you can
decide what your response will be.  You don’t have to be at the mercy
of your emotions, and acceptance can be your first step toward
empowerment . . . For me, acceptance has been the cornerstone
to my having an emotionally healthy response to my illness.

Morrie Schwartz

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