Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Fitting Into Nature's Scheme of Things

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Red CloudsYou know what they say: ‘Everybody always talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.’ Baloney! We do lots of things about it! Watching Californians in the summertime is a study in a glorious variety of summer strategies to cope with the weather.

When exposed to the particular vagaries in this state (i.e. a million microclimates), you learn fast where your escape hatches are. Temperatures and humidity levels vary widely from town to town. Add summer heat and water shortages and you have a simmering cauldron of discomfort if you’re not careful.

Temporary breakdowns are so common that they’re not even considered creative around here. The number of people going home from work because they just can’t cope reaches epidemic proportions this time of year. While sunshine is a positive characteristic, it can be a bit too much of a good thing, especially when accompanied by triple-digit temperatures.

Some people recommend technological coping strategies, but these tend to be impractical. Air conditioning, as we all know, was designed to test your adaptability by plunging you from tropic heat to sub-arctic temperatures instantaneously. Besides, apart from putting you into shock and making it necessary to wear a winter coat over your summer suits, who can afford the electricity? Who can afford the gasoline, if you happen to spend hours in the local traffic jam?

Scientific studies have shown that the low pressure areas preceding a storm result in increased depression in the general population. Scientists are not clear whether this is a result of being trapped in a temperature inversion along with all that air pollution, or a result of being trapped in your office with 20 or 30 other hot and steamy people who’d rather be at the beach. Lethargy and apathy combine with staring out windows for a scene right out of a zombie horror movie.

And it doesn’t take a scientist to see the increased anxiety in those living in areas prone to fires. Crankiness and terminal irritability can accompany any of these patterns. Calling in sick by pleading a summer cold is the best coping strategy for not spreading the epidemic of poor mental health, unless, of course, you really have a summer cold. In that case I’d advise going in to the office. After all, you can be miserable there as well as anywhere else.

The list of creative pathologies, however, is both long and fascinating. For example, the sudden compulsion to take one’s clothes off and lie motionless until one is the color of a fresh-cooked lobster. Or the less anachronistic alternative of wearing paper goggles while being sprayed from all sides with sunless tanner, so you can turn terra-cotta instead of orange. Then there is the obsession to find out exactly what causes heat prostration by jogging on the side of the road until the sweat leaves a tangible trail behind you.

More creative (and lazier) souls may develop the hobby of driving down well-jogged paths while rating participants on a scale of one to ten. The muscular hunk in skin-tight shorts? 10 of course! The stout gentleman puffing along with a red face? You guessed it! Or grab a board with wheels or wax and get hit in the face with water or wind (or both) to lower your body temperature.

Some creative responses boggle the mind. Many of us put on woolen suits or corsets and petticoats to recreate the Civil War. Then we battle for hours in the hot sun while inhaling clouds of black powder smoke. Why we do this in the heat of summer is a good question. Although having to dry a rain-soaked canvas tent does put a damper of recreating in cooler seasons. Ren Faire addicts are in a similar dilemma, with heat stroke coming in only barely ahead of damp and muddy.

Affordability is the only obstacle to backyard swimming pools, month-long vacations in other climates, and similar escapist strategies. But those are so average. Let’s all hear it for the creative and somewhat crazy ways to survive the summer!

Winter Wolf

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Winter WolfI love this winter wolf! He pensively stares at me through the snow, deep in the midst of the forest of the unconscious, reminding me that it takes strength, courage, and faith to be true to myself even when alone in the coldest of seasons. And he reminds that there are Seasons, that times change and things pass, and new growth occurs. He reminds me too that I have always been a wild child rather than a placid sheep, trusting my intuition and instincts, and knowing how important it is to develop a loving and trusting relationship with one’s Self.

A fellow graduate student of my doctoral university (The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio) wrote the book on women who run with wolves and the men who love them. (See Links) In it she talks about ‘taking on the task of being on one’s own, developing one’s own consciousness about danger, intrigue, politic. Becoming alert to oneself, for oneself.’ It is an initiatory process for all human beings, men and women alike, and worth the danger and the pain that can strike us.