I live in Arizona and we’re having a heat wave. Imagine that – a heat wave in Arizona! It was 108 degrees in Sedona today. Phoenix, two hours away and in “the valley,” has been hovering between 118 and 122 degrees. Airline flights have been cancelled. Smaller airplanes can’t fly safely in that kind of heat. I didn’t know that. I’ve never lived in the Southwest before.
I have been in 120-degree heat before. In India. It was about three years ago, and my daughter Michaela and I were in Delhi. She went for business and I tagged along. One of the sights there was a not-to-be missed mosque. Of course, we had to take our shoes off before entering. There was a courtyard between the entrance gate and the interior. Running across the paved courtyard was like running on a bed of hot coals. Michaela, bless her heart, gave me her socks. We toured the dark, cool mosque and carried on. I mean, how many times in one’s life does one get to see Delhi? Arizona doesn’t seem so radical, when I think about it.
For the last week, I have hunkered down and stayed inside except for early morning excursions to the supermarket and my air-conditioned meditation group. Today, my outside cat became an inside cat. He has braved the heat for the past couple of days, but today I laid down the law.
Oh, yes, and did I mention the desert roaches are back? The people here tell me when it’s this hot, they come in looking for water. Of COURSE they do. So, I’m doing what people here do – I spray the insides and outsides of my front door, my garage door, and the door to my patio. For the past three mornings, I have come into my kitchen to find no roaches lying on their backs, wiggling their spindly little legs. I thank God, sincerely and fervently. But then, this afternoon, I found one who made it in through my patio door. (How do they do that?) And why do they always end up on their backs? Never mind. It’s better than having them run around.
These creepy little insects are part of the balance between the incredible beauty of the high desert and the things that live in it. I don’t like sharing this space with them, but they were here before I was – probably before anybody was.
Back in Maryland, where I lived before, it was rain. And mosquitoes. I lived in wetlands. My house was beside a gorgeous river, but when I opened the door in the summertime, the mosquitoes would eat me alive, and I hated the days when the sun didn’t shine. It doesn’t matter where you live. Wherever you are, the earth will be made up of beauty and beasts. It will be blazing hot or freezing cold. Wherever you go in this life and on this earth, there will be something over which you have no control. In the meantime, I spray. (I found out that Raid makes a lavender scented poison.) I try to distract my complaining prisoner cat with toys (that lasts for about a minute). I stay in my air-conditioned condo. I read. I work on my book. I binge-watch good things on Netflix. I eat a lot of ice cubes. And…I treat myself to ice cream. Without guilt.
When I really think about it, things are okay. And guess what? The monsoon rains are coming. They come to us in Arizona from July to September, to cool everything off and make the cacti bloom. And the sky will be dramatic and breathtaking. The roaches will disappear. (Yea!) And Dorian (the cat) can stay outside under the car port and watch the rain.
I like the way the Buddhists handle this. They see the impermanence of things in life – the good, the bad, the heat, the cold, the beauty, and the beasts. They know that nothing lasts. And they don’t sweat it.