It’s Thursday, October 22nd in Bozeman, Montana and when I woke up this morning it was 20° outside and we had gotten about 4 or 5 inches of snow overnight.
Now I’m not crazy about snow at the best of times, but this kind of weather before the end of October is definitely going to make me grumble: bah, humbug. We went from hot to cold very quickly—the trees hadn’t yet turned color, and my body hasn’t had time to adjust.
I was meant to go for a walk today with a friend and had texted her that we needed to get our Montana chops on and bundle up. This morning she texted me that she was canceling because of the weather and that her Montana chops were frigid. I texted back that my Montana chops were ready to go into hibernation.
The thing is, that while circumstances may not always be what we would wish, most of us in the USA are spoiled rotten. Having spent 13 years living on the street and carried around the world with no visible means of support, I am particularly sensitive to the abundance I now enjoy while living on what is considered a pittance by many.
First of all, I have shelter—my own space where I can be safe and warm (or cool) in all weather. I have a bed to sleep on whenever I please, (no small thing) and even though for the past four months my sleep has been interrupted and curtailed almost nightly by outside forces, I am still able to make myself comfortable. I accept and adapt—I am not suffering. Why?
Because circumstance is not what creates suffering, it’s the attitude I have about it and/or the stories that I tell myself. If I’m not telling myself any stories, I’m not suffering. I may be uncomfortable, my body may be exhausted, but while the physical experiences pain, suffering is of the mental realm, period.
Besides shelter, there is heat, hot water (ohmygoodness: a hot shower or bath whenever I please!), both refrigerator and cupboards full of food (do you understand how extraordinary that is?), a computer/hook-up—that connects me to everything and everyone (with which I can order anything delivered from anywhere), a phone (that I use to speak to and even see people around the world), a vehicle that carries me where I need to go in all weather—need I go on? (Compared to billions, living the high-life.)
I am surrounded by beauty: plants—some flowering—in every room, bringing color, texture, form, oxygen, and especially LIFE to keep me company with their presence. I have a digital subscription to the NYT, and a printer—so on days like this I can print a months’ worth of crossword, acrostic, and various other word puzzles to entertain and engage my brain. I have books, and access to anything I’d like to read through my iPad: the world’s library at my fingertips. I have a screen on which I can watch any sort of entertainment that attracts me, and I have yarn with which to create what I please: sweaters, scarves, hats, slippers, cowls—and I knit for the delight of others as well as myself.
So if you’re feeling oppressed by the demands of the pandemic, fed-up with the weather, tired or frustrated by one thing or another, take a look around and begin to appreciate all the things we so easily take for granted. Just move yourself out of your head into your Heart—and dwell there.
(Need more practical understanding? Read the book)