Keeping Cool in a Heat Wave

193/365 summer in the city
Temperatures Rising, Must keep Cool

I am lost on Cary Parkway in Cary, NC. I stop and ask for directions in the sweltering oppressive heat. I really want to listen to what the red-faced man is drawling out in that calm manner that is the signature of Southern Hospitality. I realize long before he is done that I honestly have no idea what he just said for the last two minutes. So I affect my most gracious expression, thank him profusely and drive on.

Its July.

Its Hot.

It’s really Hot.

I try again and retrace the directions to the UPS store I have been looking for. The last 20 minutes of my drive have been accompanied by the now extremely and I even start to think  insolent tone of the GPS that keeps telling me I have arrived interspersed with instructions to make a legal U-Turn.  I briefly entertain the thought of just chucking it out my window. I consider the possibility that my air condition might not be working. I hover my hand over the vent. Its working. Just not the way I would want it to. I find myself looking back fondly on the cool Minnesota breezy summers I had been enjoying just a couple of weeks earlier before my move to NC.

On it’s on volition, or so it seems,  the car directs me to a parking lot and I pull over. I quiet the GPS, reluctantly roll down my window which invites the unwanted heat that presses into the car and ask another man whether he knows where the UPS store is. He politely points at the sign right in front of me. It says UPS store. I sheepishly thank him. He politely drawls out a conciliatory response and goes about his business.  Getting out of the car, I can literary feel my nerves expand to create space for the heat to pass through.  The walk across the now vast looking parking lot takes on the sort of feel you get when trying to get to finish line before you pass out. My sandals want to stick to the black asphalt so I have to work a little harder to lift my legs as I walk. My dress clings to my body in a way that leaves little to the imagination.

“Oh what a great thing it would be”, I find myself musing  ” if we could dispense with the need for clothes ….what a lighter world it would be.”

I finally find myself in the UPS store. Relief is evident in the way I greet the bespectacled man behind the counter with breathless gratitude lacing my voice. He asks me what he can do for me and as I look down I realize that I left the package I wanted to mail back in the car… the car that is parked across that football field of a parking lot.I contemplate the walk back to the car in the open oven outside. The distance to the car seems to have doubled.

I am sure by now you can sense the frustration in this one little encounter. Most of us don’t have a very good relationship with discomfort. When I find myself in the midst of an uncomfortable situation, it’s all I can do to make sure I can get through it without completely loosing my composure. Trying to go about daily routines in the midst of an unrelenting heat wave is one such uncomfortable situation.

It’s easy to forget important things when trying to just get through an uncomfortable situation. It’s easy to be consumed by the situation so that you completely forget to pay attention to the process. This is exactly the time to slow down and do things consciously with precision so that as you try to find your way through a task, you don’t have to endure unnecessary discomfort by having to constantly repeating tasks that could have been accomplished by simply paying attention.

In such a situation, acknowledging the current state of things is important. Then taking stock of what needs to be done and the resources necessary to get things done is critical. Then focusing your mind on the task so that you are not distracted by the problem will ensure that you don’t have to keep backtracking to redo an unpleasant task.

In my case, I took a deep breath and decided not to focus on what the heat was doing to me but rather what I needed to do to complete the task I had set out to do. I walked into the pulsing heat. I let it wrap its sweltering arms around me and together we ambled to the car, retrieved the package and proceeded to go back to do that which should have been done long before.

Have a cool week won’t you?

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