I’ve been awake since quarter past three this morning. I think I was just excited to see our first “real” snowfall of the season here. I padded around the dark house looking out the windows, in order to see everything draped in the white of the new-fallen snow.
I have a friend who dreads winter. He has a yearly winter refrain that he’s been saying for a couple months now: he hates the cold, and he forbids me to say the “S” word—snow. To be fair, he is in an outdoor recreation industry, so the winter weather marks the end of his work season.
As spring begins, though, he disparages the brevity of his off-season and suffers the rain and cold, then the pollen and allergies of the blooming season. As spring becomes summer, he voices frustration with his increasingly heavy workload, the length of his workday, and the “unbearable” heat. In the transition into fall, he complains about the cooler, shorter days, frosty mornings, and falling leaves, as he sweats over the financial numbers of his ending work season.
I’m at a loss to pinpoint what set of conditions my friend would actually enjoy. More importantly, I suspect he’s not sure, either. Regardless of what season we’re in, and what the day brings, my friend seems to always be projecting an image of how things could be “better.” Cooler in the summer; warmer in the winter. Busier on the shoulder seasons, but less busy during the summer season. A longer off-season with “non-winter” weather, but a shorter work season with easier work but good numbers.
Byron Katie talks about accepting the reality of what is, instead of wishing and insisting things were different. We can expend an enormous amount of energy and misalign our thoughts toward disappointment by constantly thinking that some alternative would be “better” than what actually is.
My friend lives in New England, so he should pretty much count on experiencing its four distinct seasons. Granted, his career in outdoor recreation probably connects him more directly to these seasons than other people. But here’s what I don’t get—how does it serve him to always be wishing the day, or the weather, or the season was different than what it is? How would his mood change and his spirit alight, if he focused on seeing what was good about the way things actually are, instead of looking for what could, or “should,” be better?
There’s a story about a great king who traveled throughout his kingdom, seeking to determine the state of his people. The king was glad to discover that his citizens were content. He was dismayed, however, because his feet were in much pain from walking his kingdom’s rough, rocky, uneven roads. He gathered his ministers and announced a grand plan to layer all the roads of his kingdom with leather. The ministers ranged across the kingdom to gather all the cows needed for the enormous undertaking. One of the king’s wisest ministers sought private audience with the king, and asked him, “Why kill so many cows and make so much leather at so much expense, when all you really need are just two pieces of leather to cover the soles of your feet?”
Is it more sensible, and ultimately, more effective, to try to change the whole world or wish it was different than it is? Or will it serve us better to accept the reality in which we live, striving to gain perspectives that align us to the spirit and beauty of the people, nature, and environment which surrounds us?