It’s March 14 and the heat here in Kerala is officially oppressive. I just broke a profuse sweat clipping my toenails. In the shade. There are beads of water consistently poised on my upper lip. I feel like a NYC construction worker in August.
What am I complaining about, you may ask? I live in Austin TX where the low in the summer plummets to a cool 80*. My response? I live in Austin, TX where we have air conditioning. A modern convenience blaringly absent from this property. Somehow, insistent that I did the contrary, I managed to book a cottage without AC. Many of us take AC for granted in states below the Mason Dixon Line. Hell, most of us take consistent electricity for granted, also something not guaranteed here in India.
Now I understand why those Antebellum people did little else but sit on their porch and drink mint juleps. There wasn’t much energy for anything else. Unless I want to kick my flirtations into high gear with one of the two single men here, it’s fan city for me. Which is of little assistance when, much like Donald Trump, it seems to be blowing around nothing but hot air. And like a disciple of the potential candidate (Heaven help us), I’m beginning to get just a little bit cantankerous.
Finding little respite anywhere else, I decided to come back to my room to write about it. Or shall I say bitch? At least the fan wicks sweat off from my body so I don’t drip on my keyboard.
My lunches have diminished from modest portions of cooked food to anything raw containing water. I have heaping plates of iceberg lettuce with the occasional dark leafy green floating around like a rare lily in a sea of water. Cucumbers pile high alongside some carrots and potentially another creative salad they toss together in the kitchen. I eat ginger chutney like soup to help me digest and often mix that with a tomato chutney to add flavor to my water based lunch. Lest you fear I’m not consuming enough calories, I make sure to stack no less than six pieces of Kerala Papad, akin to lighter crispier won ton noodles, and Masala papad, maybe the one Indian delicacy I will miss, on my plate.
Yet again, just when I decide to get comfortable, here comes India, wearing me down, forcing me to negotiate discomfort and inconvenience. A week ago I was dying for a smoothie. Now, I’m dying to breathe.
Another answer is actually in the form of a question: Don’t we all have to find SOMETHING to complain about? As you likely surmised, the answer is no. We don’t.
Somehow, the employees here at Somatheeram maintain a smile on their face as buckets of sweat seep from their pores. While I have a strong urge to become a nudist, these ladies are covered head to toe in their saris, the middle of their bicep to their fingertip being the only exposed skin other than their face. Doing physical labor and rubbing down my body in oil. That just ain’t right.
It seems that complaining and bitching is really a condition of those granted the luxury of living in modern society, where almost every move we make is an attempt to get ourselves just a little more comfortable. It’s human nature, the desire for comfort. None of us WANT to endure life’s prickly circumstances. So for the most part, we become good at avoiding or circumventing them. There seems to be a new invention introduced every day to make our lives easier. In fact, where I currently live, there’s an entire conference happening as I type this dedicated to making life just a little bit more convenient.
While I’m slightly envious of those at SXSW right now, I have some advice. Take a trip to India or if you can’t afford that, turn off your AC for a day in July. Go without your car for 24 hours. Or, GASP! Place your iPhone in a drawer for a few days.
Tolerance is like a muscle. If we don’t use it, we lose it. We become increasingly demanding as our ability to endure circumstances that don’t go our way diminishes. In essence, we become prima donnas. Or wusses as some might say.
Back in the day, yogis and sages welcomed adversity. Why do you think they hid out in caves and took nothing but what was given to them, possibly even rejecting donations of food? Hard to believe when most of us have a convenience store within a mile of us, if not a Whole Foods.
Their motto? Bring it on! Bring on the shit storm and irritations. The anxieties and stresses of the mind. It’s how they came to understand they were much more than their minds. By moving beyond it.
I’ll be the first to say some of this sucks. My dreams of Ayurvedic bliss have been replaced by fit full nights of sleep disturbed every few hours by tossing and turning to procure the exact angle that will maximize fan coverage. My ideas of walks on the beach and mid afternoon yoga practices have been sidelined. I’m forced in the middle of the day to sit on my arse doing nothing, which is about as uncomfortable as it gets for me.
However, in the grand scheme of things, this is but a small misery. A drop in the proverbial bucket.
I’m reminded of words my teacher spoke during what has affectionately come to be known amongst our gang as the “long hold practice” – I can handle it. Come at me life. Let it hail adversity, uneasiness, agitation, and conflict – I can handle it.
At least for another four days.
And just like that – it starts to rain.