It was Will Rogers, America’s folksy humorist/philosopher of the 1920s and early ‘30s, who said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” These days, another observation making the rounds says, “If you don’t like the weather in North Carolina, wait 10 minutes and it’ll probably change.”
Just a few days ago, we saw that played out locally. One day the temperature was 70 degrees and we were wearing shorts. The next day it snowed sideways, and while we weren’t in a “white-out,” we didn’t miss it by much.
The reality of life, however, is that in one way or another through the years folks have been trying to do something about the weather, at least parts of it. For instance, at times of serious drought in the past, well-meaning folks would fire cannons containing “rain seeds” into the air hoping to create clouds and rain. Sometimes there would be rain afterwards; sometimes not. Never was easy to decide if that worked or not.
And, of course, today there’s much talk of “global warming” and what humanity can do to prevent it. I understand weather folks and others like to keep records, and they tell us the earth is two degrees warmer now than in 1492 and that we should put diapers on cattle so their digestive accidents won’t doom us as those events rush into the atmosphere. But if we’re really having serious episodes of that kind of warming and the temps the day it snowed and last Monday night’s 20s are global warming, I don’t want any more. Makes too big a dent in my firewood supply.
But beyond the obvious about the weather — that it affects us in many ways and that Someone Else is in charge of it — it strikes me that the weather is a lot like life, maybe even a microcosm of it.
For instance, sometimes days are warm and sunny like the summer’s best days. Some days those days are cool and crisp, in spring or fall. And sometimes the temps are downright frigid. Sometimes the weather brings us rain and chilly winds. And sometimes that bright beautiful sunny sky is overcome with dark clouds that blot out the sun.
Now, tell me … haven’t we all had days of our lives like that? We’ve had those warm sunny days when everything is right with the world. And we’ve had those cool crisp days like spring’s when we’re moving into a situation and those fall days when we’re on the way out. And who hasn’t had a downright cold day or two or three or more when nothing goes right? Add to that the days of rain and chilly winds and there you go.
So, while there are some similarities, there’s also a difference, a major one. Will Rogers was right; we can’t do anything about the weather but be prepared. But life? There’s lots we can do.
Attitude has much to do with how we see life. On a bright day or a cloudy one, is our eight-ounce glass with four ounces of sweet tea half-full or half-empty? Do you stop to remember that it’s the sunshine and the rain that make the roses grow? And while we’re at it do you see a rose bush as a bush with beauty that happens to have a few thorns, or a thorn bush with some beauty attached?
We can’t change the weather but we can change how we look at it … and at life. Reminds me of the drawing I saw of a large three-masted sailing ship of old plowing its way through rough seas. The caption on the picture noted, “It’s not which way the wind blows but how you set your sails.”
As we sail through life, it’s up to us to run up our sails and also to make sure there aren’t any holes, rips or tears in them.
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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