Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Personal Reflection on Hunger and Being Cold

Deep roots are not reached by the frost. - J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m sitting by the window at the university, looking outside at bare branches and concrete pathways carved through white blankets of snow. I remember when I couldn't even imagine snow. Yes, I’d seen it before, an hour away from my house in the mountains. I couldn't imagine living in it, driving in it, or glancing out the window to see it drifting down. I know I talk about snow a lot here on the blog, or at least I have lately, but that’s only because I still can’t believe that little flakes fall from the sky. I’m not used to seeing bricks on walkways coated in salt, or icicles encrusted to the bottom of cars. I’m not used to the requirements of boots, scarf, gloves, and hat, and I didn't even know that an ice scraper existed until moving here.

Yet I’m getting used to the snow and all that comes with it, and it reminds me that I've come a long way.

Rewind a few months. Aaron’s just gotten off work at the software company, and I’m waiting for him in the parking lot. He’s a little late today; maybe it is 4:45, and I’m starving. Such as, ready to eat an elephant starving. Oh yes, I had lunch on my break right at noon, where I sat at a picnic table up the stairs from the preschool in the sunshine, but it’s 4:45 now and I don’t think I’ll last the drive home and the time it takes to make dinner. Heaven forbid I’m in a bad mood, or Aaron might have to endure some grumpy mutterings about whatever mischief the kids attempted that day.

I was tied to my stomach, and was always getting cold. I had allowed minor needs to overwhelm me, and while I had recognized this fact, I needed the boost of a cold clime to motivate me to change.

Of course it’s okay to get hungry, and it’s okay to get cold; and in fact it’s often impossible to avoid either. However, it’s not okay to let those sensations rule one’s life and negatively affect one’s relationships, as I did.

Connecticut was a catalyst for growing personal strength. Suddenly our schedule necessitated that we didn't eat dinner until 8:00 pm. Temperatures plummeted way below 60°, and suddenly 50° became t-shirt weather. 

It was not t-shirt weather this day.
Connecticut has been teaching me mental discipline. I had realized in Santa Barbara that it wasn't really fair to make Aaron pay for a grumbling stomach, and had taken some small steps to resolve that, but had not reached the strength of mind I've found here. I realized that as Aaron works through a challenging program, I need to be a support, not a complaint factory. I can’t tutor Aaron in higher math, but I can cook him a tasty dinner, and do the dishes afterwards.

And the cold…I used to get a chill in Santa Barbara fog, but I've been plowing through the snow here and enjoying it. I was surprised to find how quickly my body adapted; once I decided to buck up, I discovered unexpected enjoyment in crisp air. I’m essentially a 2 year old when it comes to the snow; I have a tendency to giggle and stomp through freshly fallen snow. No spring fever yet!

And I have to give a lot of credit to Aaron in all this – when I was cold and hungry, he was patient with me. He’ll call me out if I am really being ridiculous, but he is kind and even-tempered about the calling out. He’s grateful for what I do to try and make our lives better, by working on my own heart. He’s a support to me even while I’m trying to be a support to him.

And I know you all will think I’m crazy, but little Hobbes makes a difference too. It’s pretty hard to be upset when there’s a kitten jumping around the house and purring in my face. It’s been good for me to take care of her too, and remember that my life is not my own, but that I find happiness when I am helping those around me.

1 comment: