The Dog Days of Summer

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photo courtesy of busy brain

I have always found the reaction to summer heat waves, both here in my current home in Victoria BC and also in my Toronto years now past, to be amazingly stupid.

Why?  Because we pretend it isn’t happening.

When it was record breaking hot here last month, everyone carried on as if it wasn’t.  That is no easy task.  After all, let’s be honest, when it is hot, we don’t move so fast usually.  Everything is more difficult.  It is like trying to wade through a swamp (trust me on this one) your movements are slow and labored and you wish you had stopped pretty much when you began.  You are wet, uncomfortable and your brain is fogged up by it all.  How can you go about your regular work day like that?

The nod to the heat came only in the form of the local paper that actually ran a story on whether or not it was hot enough to fry an egg on a local manhole cover and how long it took for an ice cream to melt into a puddle. But otherwise, everyone imagined their day should pace out about the same.  Everyone hurried to work, applied themselves diligently and hurried home and made supper and went to bed.

In Spain and many other warm countries they have hot weather habits.  Hot weather isn’t something you read about, you live it. Like eating late so that you can eat  dinner in the coolness of evening, or taking a post lunch siesta during the hottest part of the day.  How well I remember being in Barcelona several years ago for a singing competition.   Everything was closed between 1 and 3 pm it seemed.  And when I went for dinner at 7 pm I was turned away.  Even at 9 pm I was early and dined in an empty restaurant.  No, we North Americans do what we always do.  We keep going.  We adjust by opening our car windows all the way, we run our fans and we think about whether or not to invest in air conditioning.  We curse or lament the heat maybe, but we don’t slow down.

The way we react in a heat wave made me thing about how we often react in life.  When something is oppressively difficult, like 36 degrees Celsius heat, we try to ignore it.  Here is this thing in our lives that is causing us pain and is omnipresent, but we stick our heads in the metaphorical sand (at the beach we aren’t at) and just keep doing what we always do. Pretend it isn’t there.  We should be able to work over it, or under it.  Certainly we can work past it.  Why should we change what we do?  Why we should take that risk  How long can this go on for anyway? So we keep on keeping on.

Logic clearly dictates that when the environment changes, you should too.  When it is hot, you should step away from the regular and leave your angularities behind and embrace this new reality.  When something in your life is changing, and making you uncomfortable, then you should take notice and see what is called for in response.

What about the heat wave in your life?  You know, the one you have been ignoring because you are sure it will pass.  Is it time for you to slow down and suck on a cool glass of lemonade and maybe do something differently?  Have you noticed that what you have been doing, ignoring it and pressing on, isn’t really making you feel better?

Don’t ignore these pressing situations in your life.  Hey, it’s really hot!  Everyone else knows you are really hot.  They’re hot too.  So slow down, change what you wear, accept that you’ll be less productive.  Remember, if you push through and don’t find shade and drink extra water, you end up with heat stroke or worse.  I’m not telling you anything new when I remind you that many studies equate stress with real, measureable physical illnesses.  That situation you are refusing to acknowledge is still there, others do see it, and you are suffering for it.

So my questions today are:

What is my own personal ‘heatwave’?

What could I do to make myself more comfortable in it?

What do I need to just accept about this situation so I can release my “keeping on”?

What are three small gifts I could give myself right now to make this easier?

How will I turn my unbearable heat wave into a tropical holiday to remember?