What do you do when life gets tough? When you’re in the middle of a heat wave (at least three days with the temperature over 90 degrees) or having chest pains, what do you do?
If you called me up when I was on the support line, I would have asked if you had air conditioning, then recommended that you withdraw to the smallest space you could cool—shut off all the other rooms and hunker down in the cool spot. Close the curtains to cut down on the amount of sun coming into your space. Wear as little clothing as possible. Reading or watching television are both good things to do—you can distract yourself with alternative realities while you wait for relief. A cold drink helps. Likewise, you can wring out a bath towel in cold water and then lay on it. Stay inside the cool. Go to an air conditioned movie.
For chest pains, trust in the Lord. My grandma had a farm and a bad heart. Sometimes she’d be out walking around the farm without her nitroglycerin when the angina pains would start. “What do you do?” I gasped in horror.
She replied, “I sit down and pray.” The Lord is with you always and he has a plan. Get in touch with him and ask what he wants you to do.
For me, excessive heat causes disordered thinking and emotional despair, so I have acquired the skill of not thinking or feeling. It’s a way of suspending thought and emotion during times that I know that neither my thoughts nor emotions are healthy or reliable responses to reality. It is sort of a Hindu or Buddhist non-attachment.
The heat wave is what it is. You cannot change it. You can, however, wait patiently for it to be over. Make no attempt to overcome the heat or to continue with your usual activities. Acknowledge the changed reality and let it flow over you without fighting it. When I was reading the Holy Koran, I came to a place where it addressed what you do when things are bad. I braced myself for some words about what you must to do overcome, and how you must focus your attention on caring for others, or some other utterly impossible acts to engage in.
All the Koran said was ‘be patient and persevere.’ Or, as the Marine said, “Turn your chin into the wind and keep marching.” Keep on keeping on. Hard times come. You cannot change them, only can ride them out.
A bit of an old poem, written by a father teaching his daughter to swim: “When the world is too much with you, lie back and let the light sea hold you.”
Float, knowing the Lord is with you.