As I write on Monday morning, snow melts off the roof of my home office, tap-tapping on the sill below. The droplets catch the sun, like streaks of liquid gold. Yew boughs glitter and sway in the light breeze.
Still, it’s quite cold outside, with highs today only in the low ’20s. I’m glad for my renewed gym membership, knowing I can walk and ride the bike despite the frigid air. (And, yes, I hit my goal last week of three workouts!)
Memories come in odd flashes. As I was getting dressed, trying to figure out how many layers I needed, I suddenly recalled a particularly cold day in the second grade. Back then, freezing temps would not have stopped our teachers from sending us outside for recess. As long as the sun was shining, we were on the playground, tossing rocks for hop-scotch, twirling jump ropes, climbing the jungle gym, swinging on swings, playing dodge ball.
But on this particularly cold day, a few friends and I were complaining to the recess monitor, a woman with a dark-brown, Jackie-Kennedy-style coif, scarlet lipstick, and a kind disposition, about the fact that we didn’t want to be outside. She was our favorite monitor, possibly one of the moms, though I don’t recall. “You’re just a bunch of sugarplums,” she teased. “It’s a beautiful, sunny day!”
Our seven-year-old response was to link arms and march around, chanting, “It’s cold, it’s freezing, it’s terrible! It’s cold, it’s freezing, it’s terrible!” She laughed, and we did, too. At some point that seemed like forever (probably after a mere 20 minutes), the bell rang and we gratefully retreated to the warmth of our classroom.
I am, still, indeed, hypersensitive to the cold—though not due to any (implied) weakness of strength or character. Remembering that day, I have to smile, but I’m glad that, in our own childish way, we stood up for ourselves. (Back then, girls had to wear skirts and dresses to school, so our legs were pretty darn cold.)
At the same time, our recess monitor made an important point. Focusing on the negative wasn’t going to help us one bit to stay warm. Running around would have been a better idea, soaking up the sun and generating our own heat. Linking arms, our improvised solution, helped, too.
Some 59 years later, those lessons still shimmer in my mind. Focusing on the negative, overwhelming as the challenges may seem, won’t get us anywhere. Standing up for our truths matters. Linking arms helps.
Image: Nine Köpfer