An Honor Badge
May this day,
this predicted week of moist jungle air
be for you an honor badge
in loving what is.
May you pause in your day,
move slowly as this heat requests
and notice how capable you are,
how amazingly capable.
And may you hold a cold glass of water
with unabashed delight.
These days, it doesn’t take much capability to withstand a summer heat wave. Just turn on the air conditioner and stay inside. This is the first year we’ve used our air conditioner, and it’s mostly because we want our grandchildren to sleep well while we’re watching them—so we can sleep! But, otherwise, we adapt our bodies to the heat by keeping windows open, dressing lightly and drinking a lot of water and iced tea.
It’s true that it’s gotten harder for me to cope with extreme temperatures as I’ve aged, especially when it lasts for weeks instead of a day or two. But this poem reminds me that I can do hard things. I can make sacrifices for future generations. I can handle a little sweat and discomfort. The summer heat forces me to adjust to nature’s rhythms. It’s an invitation to slow down and rest in the middle of the day as many cultures have done for hundreds of years. It’s also a test of my patience, resilience and humility. The “honor badge” comes from handling heat with grace and acceptance. Do I use the heat as an excuse to be thoughtless or self-focused? To try to garner attention or sympathy for the way I do things?
I am also reminded that I have many tools with which to handle extreme heat. I can use air conditioning, if I choose, or find a place that does. I have access to pools, beaches and showers to cool off. And I always have fresh, clean water. A glass of cold water is amazingly refreshing when it’s hot. What a gift! It’s truly the simple things in life that can bring the most joy.