There’s a reality show on cable called “Life Below Zero.” I’ve watched it a few times as I assume most readers have.
Those folks living that life have what I consider a hard time of it compared to my world but figured that maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as it looked. Wrong!
Last week, we lived a sister reality show I’d call, “Stranded in Midway Park.” I’m here to tell you there’s no way I’d ever get used to freezing cold weather day after day. And, truth be told, I don’t want to.
I recall a family above the Arctic Circle watching expectantly for their river ice to begin to break up and flow downstream. My wife Ann and I had a similar tiny experience.
Into the third day when Skip said temperatures would be inching up, we’d stand at the patio door watching for telltale drops of water signaling the beginnings of a thaw. A few came here and there. We even opened the door so we could hear the beautiful sound of the intermittent drips.
I even found myself channeling my “inner-Druid” by awaiting and anticipating the warming sunrises each morning. I was missing the robe and hood but did utter a few chants. Actually the “chants” sounded a lot like sneezes, but apparently they worked. The sun rose to my joy.
I know I’m being a little ridiculous treating this winter weather as a special hardship. Northerners would consider our storm as nothing more than extra-thick frost.
Truthfully, I’ve nothing to gripe about other than missing a few days at my office. I was “stranded” in a warm and comfortable house with a beautiful wife and plenty of food. That’s not a hardship by any rational measure.
But in situations like this, the issue isn’t a lack of comfort and safety but absence of choices. There’re very few ingredients more vital to contentment than options.
We humans are weird animals. If prevented from doing something that you normally do, you want to do it all the more intensely. Restore the choice and calmness descends. Voila!
I’m an accountant, and Friday marked the date the IRS would begin accepting e-filed tax returns. Needless to say I’ve been poised to transmit a pile of them when the date arrived so was antsy to get to work in the extreme.
I’m now typing this at my office having happily driven here for the first time since Monday, via Cracker Barrel. There’re just so many inconveniences I’m willing to bear, and their coffee and oatmeal aren’t on the “optional” list.
I’m looking forward to diving into my work but thankful Ann kept me inside as long as she did. Right here at the beginning of my busy season it would’ve been past stupid to have slipped on the ice and broken something important.
I thank Mother Nature for reminding me that my little life is easily trumped by her so I should accept her whims with grace. I also want to thank Stonehenge solar forces for melting my driveway.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.