Be careful what we get accustomed to

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A few days ago, a longtime friend and I found ourselves standing outside for several moments in the ongoing visit of Mr. Hot Weather.

While I’m a little bigger than he is, neither one of us would qualify to shop in the petite side of the clothing store. And so, as we sweated in the heat and humidity — welcome to North Carolina in the summer — we began to reminisce about what it was like before air conditioners came along.

I mentioned how hard the heat is on a big ol’ boy like me; he agreed — and not just about me being a big ol’ boy — but, as he said, about himself, “Me, too; I guess we’re spoiled,” or something like that. And then he went on to say before anyone had AC, we didn’t know any different.

And that simple statement found a home in my mind and I’ve been thinking about how it applies to heat and humidity but also to other parts of life.

For the first several years I was around, we operated like most other folks — throw up the windows and hope for the best, especially at night. That wasn’t all that bad, partly because I didn’t know any different and partly because with the windows up I could hear the frogs at Wallace Farrell’s pond, just across our yard and into his pasture.

In time, my folks reasoned that one or two big box fans could be placed in the windows, turned to bring in air or pull hot out, and clicked onto “high.” There was many a night I went to sleep to the hum of the fan accompanying WPTF’s “Our Best to You.”

It was somewhere around the 10th year of my little life that Mama and Daddy got our first air conditioner. It was a big ol’ model about the size of a Volkswagen that they stuck in the dining room window, right behind the table.

That, of course, made that seat at the table a prime one when Mama put out the fried chicken and fried okra. Although my two brothers were pretty well gone from home, off at college and such, when they came home they seemed to think they had some sort of right as older and oldest to claim what was usually and normally my seat. Most of the time I could whine and whimper enough to keep my accustomed place but not always.

Anyway, later on my folks found a smaller model which they put in a back-bedroom window so as to create a cross cool. It was at about that time I migrated to that bedroom, which previously had belonged to my brothers.

Today, our little abode is blessed with central air and I have come to that point my friend mentioned earlier. I have found myself turning into my late father-in-law who, every time he came into our house whether it was cold as whiz or hotter than a two-dollar pistol, would say “Feels good in here” about the time he got past the front door.

Part of this pondering I’ve been doing lately about all this does include the heat and our dependence on Mr. Carrier’s invention. But it also links up with our tendencies as human beans to get used to things over a period of time. Some of that is good. I’ve gotten used to at least three meals a day, although they may vary in time and content. My boyish figure bears that out.

But sometimes it can be a not-so-good thing, something we need to pay attention to and work on. A key one of those is found in the first few words of the Psalms in the Book. It says folks are blessed who don’t “walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way (meaning ‘to be like’) of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”

I confess to you I had read those words many times through the years but it wasn’t until not so long ago that I realized there was a progression there. If we aren’t careful, we can start walking (living) a certain way and before long we’ll find ourselves standing around it and then pretty soon we’ve taken a seat and are hip deep

So, here’s to opportunities to avoid the heat, both to the weather and to the lifestyle. Stay cool . . .

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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