7/23/2011

On the blistering heat and the visions it may bring

To stand outside at this moment is to stand next to a campfire. As long as we stand here, in this moment in time, we are impossibly warm.

Yet, take a step back and remember that the cold beckons. The heat we feel today shall pass, though it may burn a few things back from the edges. In many parts of the country, it will take a few lives.

We're simply creatures who are somewhat cognizant of our journey through this cosmic soup and today we're all impossibly worried about the heat.

Will our air conditioning units make it through and keep us cool? Will our gardens wilt? Will we manage to survive the walk to our car?

I can remember the cold of six months ago, and I imagine many of us then would have traded that moment for this moment. And many of us now are loudly wishing we could go the other way round.

This summer is perhaps the busiest I have had in my life. There has been no slow-down, no let-up in the information I've had to sift through in order to let people know the status of various road projects that have been raised from the dead. There has been no let-up in the need to stand behind a bar bringing people refreshing beverages, and to make sure the place is clean and well-lighted.

Last summer, it seemed I could relax a little, and I don't remember it being quite this warm. Last summer, I felt that there was still a sense that I was young, that I was foolish, that anything could happen if I just wanted it hard enough.

This summer, I feel impossibly cold despite the temperatures outside. I feel frozen and locked in to my duties and responsibilities. My emotions are secondary to the mission, so I move ahead as best I can.

Soon the heatwave will break, and this crisis will be over. Lollipops will not melt in seconds. Runners will take to the streets once more. The sky will return to a pleasant blue and the yellowish haze will fade into the cupboards of our collective memory.

"This too shall pass" someone important once said, and I don't know the source of the quote. A woman I was infatuated with back in 1996 was the first person to give me that particular thread of wisdom. It took me a long time to remove her from my mind, yet she's still there saying that somewhere in the endless library wrapped up in proteins linked around axons and synapses.

The heat shall pass, and something will take its place. This is the first time in a long while where the heat has seemed to be as much a threat as the cold. The world seems different outside right now, and I'm glad to be sitting here at the bar at Court Square Tavern finally writing, finally putting fingers to keys in order to breathe for a few minutes. I am in the moderate warm here, finally quiet, finally by myself after a long week that still isn't quite over.

Tomorrow is another day, said a heroine in a movie I saw once in high school but never have since, and likely never will again unless my children want to see it and I'll feel compelled to explain to them what it was all about.

On Sunday I will talk to them about the heat, and ask them what they think it means. How does it happen? How do the winds in the high high sky conspire to create these conditions? I do not know, but I want them to know. I want them to imagine that they are the only people on the planet sometimes and that they have to figure out parts of it for themselves. I want them to not complain. I want them not to react. I want them to act and to understand and to themselves explain. I want them to feel a sense of duty to other people, no matter what form their work-life takes.

I am proud I work hard. I am proud I am devoted. I am humbled that there will always be more than can be done, and that I can focus more closely on that which must be accomplished before the electricity that fires the synapses in my brain goes out once and for all.

Now I must go out into the heat, and I will feel it on my skin and I will breathe it in and I will take in the moment as best I can. I will try my best to remember this moment so that in six months I can perform some quantum mechanics mind trick.

And frankly, isn't that what writing is?

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