Cold

A lovely winter’s day, clouds slowly lowering and promising snow. Over the lake fog has formed, largely blocking the mountains on the far side.

I grew up in rural Illinois. During winter we had plenty of ice, snow, and cold but seldom was the cold intolerable. Indeed, we were outside in most weathers, the exception being the occasional ice storm. Tomorrow’s high in west-central Illinois is forecast to be -9F, with crushing wind chills. Wisely, many communities have already cancelled school. That kind of cold  was largely outside my experience as a child. 

Extreme weather events, including cold snaps, are symptomatic of global climate change. While much will be said and written about the frigid temperatures in the Midwest, very little attention will be given to the corresponding warmth in the Arctic, even though both events only become truly meaningful when understood in tandem.

We live in a strangely myopic time, an era of fragmentation and disconnection, of misdirection and omission. Sometimes it seems that the local is only acknowledged as a fragment of experience, a datum carefully taken out of context.

And yet, we humans are inherently programmed to seek context, to make stories that place us in firm relationship to the wider world. Without context, our lives lose meaning and our experiences seem “crazy”. Traditional healing and psychotherapy share a desire to help individuals, families, and communities find context for their experiences, to relocate themselves in a world saturated in meaning. The task is now both more important, and more daunting, than ever.

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10 thoughts on “Cold

  1. It’s bone-chilling and finger-freezing cold here on the southwestern shore of Lake Superior, too, Michael. The news of record-breaking windchills is alarming, yet it brought to mind a book I read a while ago, “The Children’s Blizzard” by David Laskin (2005). (Not typical fare, I think is was an airport purchase to keep me occupied while waiting for flight connections,) The opening sentences set the context for a tragedy that killed 250 – 500 people on January 12, 1888, mostly children on their way home from school in the Dakotas and Nebraska. I was grateful to hear that all of the schools in this region have canceled classes today and tomorrow. Sending warm thoughts to you. ❤

    • Carol, I remember growing up with many stories of people perishing in blizzards. By the time I was in school we mostly rode buses, but I remember waking the very long way home from second grade in storms.
      There are so many great finds to be had in airport bookstores! (I am not very good at discovering them, sadly, although my family and friends are!)
      I am hoping you will be able to stay at home and enjoy the weather from a safe distance. You have been in my thoughts.

      • The winter climate where I spent my childhood (northern New Jersey) was often very snowy, but I don’t remember it ever being as cold as the north central U.S., Chicago or the prairie land of central Illinois. I imagine the Dakotas are even more brutal, though. It’s the winds without forests to buffer them that make the brutal cold so dangerous.

        I am grateful that I don’t have to travel for classes until Friday and Saturday. By then, temperatures are forecast to be above zero.

        Sending my best wishes to you, Michael. ❤

      • Carol, so much is in transition! We are thinking we will have to put in air conditioning! Unthinkable up til now……
        May you travel safely and in comfort when the weekend comes.

  2. I’ve lived in the Midwest for the majority of my life and for 15 years in California. Something about weather and earthquakes that speaks directly to hubris and reminds me of my basic survival keeps me both anxious and in awe. Never believe that we have tamed the Earth just because we have dominated it!

    • Oh, Scillagrace! I, too have been in those CA earthquakes, blizzards in the Rockies and mid-west, and incomprehensible storms here in New England, to say nothing of tornadoes in rural Illinois. Our collective hubris is so hard to fathom!

  3. Good post – and comments. It is good to have you back, Michael. I missed your thoughtful words. We share a similar vocabulary even though our backgrounds give us different perspectives on similar values.

    • Hi Pat! Thank you! It is good to be back, even though I am often speechless in the face of t he insanity loose in our world. I lovethat you are out there, that we have different ways of being/seeing, and that we are connected!

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