It’s a whopping one degree outside.
For the first time in four years, the low temperature dropped to below zero last night, a new record that was partly responsible for keeping me indoors on a Friday evening.
This morning, however, I felt the urge to step out into the cold, just to experience how a mere one degree felt on my skin and in my bones. Yes, it was frigid. No, I didn’t last longer than about two minutes. But it was invigorating. This morning’s fog-laden, frigid air surprisingly made me feel more alive than I have in weeks.
Sometimes I think we unnecessarily protect ourselves from sensations that aren’t immediately gratifying, sensations that might threaten our comfort. Take the cold, for instance. During winter, when temps in the northern hemisphere hit their all-time lows, we bundle ourselves up tightly to protect ourselves from the elements. But in doing so, we miss other sensations: the icy air that flushes our cheeks pink, the snowflakes on our lashes, the goosebumps on our neck. And, after all, isn’t the getting warm in front of a fire after a chilly walk in the snow half the fun?
As for uncomfortable sensations of a more emotional nature, it might make sense to protect ourselves. But in doing so, the figurative cold never really goes away, does it? It just waits for us to step outside, just like a never-ending winter.
There’s a book by Karol K. Truman called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. And friends, I believe the title of this book accurately describes a very common disease: Many of us aren’t really dealing with our past–or our problems–in emotionally healthy ways.
We wrap ourselves up so tightly with sensory pleasures and shrink beneath the lulling warmth of distractions that we never really allow ourselves to experience the sometimes-chilling realities of our lives. I like to call this “not owning our shit”.
How many times have you seen a divorcee who blames her handful of failed relationships on the lack of “incompetent men” in the marriage pool? Example one: not owning her shit.
How often do you see a businessman move from opportunity to opportunity, leaving in his wake a smattering of professional failures that were always someone else’s fault? Not owning his shit.
Or what about the playboy who, mistreated/enabled by his parents, grew up to be a star athlete but is now an abusive addict who blames the world for his lack of social skills and ability to hold down a steady job? Again, not owning his shit.
To these folks (and to myself) I say: Let’s step out into the cold. Let’s face the heavy fog of reality, feeling the frigid truth about why our collective pasts have made us the messed up–but beautiful–human beings we are today.
Once we do, I am absolutely sure of one thing: springtime awaits.