Our air conditioner went on the blink this last week. After a lightning strike a couple of weeks ago, we are slowly discovering the damage. Before you worry if we had to sweat our way through the extreme heat, it wasn’t that. Instead of a hot house, we woke to 63 degrees. Brrrrr. As I started to complain, the marvel of air conditioning hit me.
This machine can take my house from miserable heat to refreshingly cool in no time. For almost all of human history, we humans have lived without air conditioning. It’s only been since the 1950’s that air conditioning has become commonly used. Central air wasn’t even invented until the 1970’s.
In the broad scheme of human history, that’s the blink of an eye.
The same is true of so many of the modern conveniences we take for granted in the modern era. Cars. Phones. Health Care. Airplanes. Supermarkets. Electricity. Toilets. Running water.
A mere 100 years ago, we either didn’t have these conveniences or they were in their infancy.
Imagine life without these marvels of the modern era. Never mind, I don’t want to. My only understanding of life without modern amenities has come through reading books and occasional camping trips, after which I run to the real bathroom at the first opportunity.
My air conditioner gave me some perspective. Without a doubt, 2020 has been the year from hell. The coronavirus gets a lot of the credit for wreaking upheaval, illness, uncertainty – and death. But the virus isn’t the only thing – heat, fire, hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding are taking their turns as well. It’s created a field day for the media, whose lifeblood depends on reporting – and amplifying – the disasters happening around us. And this year, there really are VERY bad disasters occurring.
Yet for the most part, life is still pretty good for most of us, most of the time. Yes, we have had supply interruptions – yet the grocery stores are still mostly full of food. And finally, toilet paper. Yes, we have had a lot of people get the virus – yet most do recover. Yes, we have had natural disasters – and look at how we come together and help each other.
We are all in this together and we need each other. In the midst of the disasters, we are showing up and allowing the pressure to make us stronger. We are caring for each other. We cannot make the bad stuff go away – but we can choose how we respond to it.
In March, I wrote a post titled Rough Waters Make Good Sailors, in which I shared some of my intentions and practices for getting through the coming storm. One of those was “Getting Perspective.” Never has it been more important to get on the balcony and see the bigger picture.
On this day nineteen years ago, I turned 43 as I watched the towers fall in New York City. At that moment in time, it felt like the world was ending. Nothing could have told me in that moment that the next 19 years would be as good as they were. History is filled with “world ending” moments. And for all of us, there will be a “world ending” moment. None of us gets out of here alive.
What we do with the time we are given is up to us.
When I focus on what’s going wrong, all I see are the horrendous things going on around me. The media fuels this at every turn. When I focus on the true abundance we live in, I’m grateful for every modern convenience we have. I’m grateful for every breath of clean air (and hold my California friends in my heart). I’m grateful for the roof over my head (and remember those in the path of hurricane Laura who are rebuilding.)
I’m most grateful for the connections I share with the people in my life. I’m surrounded by truly caring and loving friends, family, colleagues and clients that offer just the right measure of challenge and support.
Where will you turn your focus today? How will you allow adversity to shape you? In what ways will you let the pressure make you stronger? What are you most grateful for? WHO are you most grateful for?