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Below Zero Weather & The Second Noble Truth

"Nothing burns like the cold."

~ George R.R. Martin

"Life is dukkha."

~ The Buddha, The First Noble Truth

Good Morning My Confidants

It's -7° out there this morning. It's old. It's really cold.

Not as cold as yesterday, but how much is -7° better that -8°? Well.... One degree, I guess.

Colder even that it was for those thousands of football fans endured going to the Chiefs Dolphins game. Of course, they had good motivation. They really like football. I can't imagine liking anything that much. I couldn't have done that to see my music heroes P!nk, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. But more power to them and I am happy for the Chiefs fans. Condolences to you Dolphins fans.

I voice my distress about cold weather, even this cold weather, and I'm shocked when people tell me," Well, at least it's not 90° out there!" They prefer winter over summer. And they must if they would rather have it be this cold than it be summer.

Over the last couple years, I've on and off discussed different weather temperatures with different people and it's a situation that comes with some very strong opinions. And even more emotions. I've been surprised at how hard it is for people to talk about it reasonably. People take it quite personably. As in, they feel attacked it I feel differently than they do.

I make a lot of posts on social media and I'm always asking questions because I want to understand things. It's a downright need. My mind won't stop. I have to know. And in my passion to know, through no harmful intent, I have ruffled feathers. I mean really ruffled them. Which only made me want to know more! Why did this issue cause so much drama? My desire to know why only made me ask more questions and that seems to have torn the feathers right out! I didn't mean, I don't ever mean to (well, mostly) upset people. But in my need to know, I sometimes do.

Especially when that passion of mine wrote something that glorified summer and lambasted winter. Whoa! Emotions actually flared and when I pressed themwhy can't I help thatin order that I could understandI really really hate winterpeople spoke about medications and diabetes and menopause and how heat sucks the energy out of them and leaves them completely drained. These people were upset!

And something then something finally hit me last night. Something finally added up.

Each winter we get somewhere between two and twelve days of really, really, really cold weather. The weather where temps never rise above freezing and often stretching into days below freezing. And on these really cold days, I am absolutely miserable. The cold sucks the energy out of me and leaves me completely drained. I feel sick. Nauseous.

And these people don't mind when it gets this cold! I just couldn't understand. And they couldn't understand how I could deal with weather over 90°, or even 100°. They give advise about bundling up and "I just love wearing layers of clothing! I love sweaters!" And then there's the prize winner! "In summer I can only take off so much, but in winter I can always add more layers. When they say that it actually pisses me off! It's right up there with "When your skydiving, does the plane stops for us to get out?" or "You're a pharmacist? I've never known anyone who worked on a farm before!"

And then I realized yesterday....

I was, I am, taking it personally when someone praises the cold and much as they do when I praise the heat! When I wondered why they were taking me so darned personally, well I was doing the same thing! It's like we're both feeling attacked out it. All meaning this temperature thing is a bid deal with us all.

What I very suddenly saw was what this all really means is that, really, truly....

We're all the same. In our vast differences, as vast as the difference between sub below zero and temperature over 100°, we're the same.

So.... What does this have to do with The Second Noble Truth?

Because I am going there. And it's helping me. Maybe it will help you?

In Buddhism, we learn that The First Noble Truth is "Life is dukkha."

"Dukkha" means "suffering." That sounds defeatist. Negative. Downright depressing.

But to be clear, in Buddhist teaching, what that phrase truly means is that in our lives, we are always going to be confronted by things that are unpleasant. Pain, sickness, the end of a relationship, the loss of a home, the loss of a job, death, and extremes in temperatures. It is inevitable. No one escapes this. "The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is..." *

When I am cold, I the energy is sucked right out of me and leaves me completely drained. I feel sick. Nauseous.


The Second Noble Truth is suffering arises from craving and attachment. Or avoidance of what we don't like. "The Second Truth...seeks to determine the" actual "cause of suffering." *

In other words, our personal suffering is not the pain or loss, but the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions we can experience because of pain or loss.

When I am cold and miserable, I can't stop thinking about it. I talk about it. I complain about it. I write posts on social mediawhere often people say they prefer winterand that upsets me more. I blog about it. I obsess about it.

So.... When then have pain and loss AND we have all the feelings and thoughts that go with that pain and loss. Both. And when we focus on pain and loss, we spiral down.

The Second Noble Truth basically states that we are the cause of our suffering!

It is less than zero outside. I live in a house that's at least 125 years old. There are places in the house that the cold gets in no matter how high I set the thermostat. And this weather makes me miserable. That is a fact. But when I obsess about it, it doubles or triples my misery.

So.... The Third Noble Truth is that there is a way out of this misery.

Which leads to the Fourth Noble Truth, which is the road out of that misery.

In my years of study, what I have come to see is that this basically means that when I don't focus on the misery, the pain, the loss, then its has less and less power over me. When I breath deep and calm myself and let go, it gets better. When I get logical and remind myself that "Each winter we get somewhere between two and twelve days of really, really, really cold weather. The weather where temps never rise above freezing and often stretching into days below freezing."

Between two and twelve days.

Maybe three weeks.

And then it warms up.

All I have to do is wait it out. Do what I can do and wait it out.

Our misery stems from craving and pushing away. Grabbing desperately at somethinga spouse, a job, a way of lifeor the trying to get away from somethinga hateful person, attitudes of others, a way that our life seems to be stuck. In all that grabbing and craving and pushing away and hating, we get caught in "samudaya," or arising. thirst, and ironically trying to escape samudaya only means more.

What we are taught to do is hold everything with an open hand, neither grasping or pushing away. Nothing lasts. So, enjoy and celebrate the good while it is happening, and comfort ourselves that we will get to the other side of something bad.


For all of us, this. Take comfort in knowing, if this cold makes you as uncomfortable as it does me, that the weather is changing. In fact, every single January (at least where I live) we get this two to twelve days, maybe three weeks, of this horribly cold weather, and then it warms up.

In fact! This is a SIGN that things are about to get better!

For those of you who hate the heat, the extremes in heat, that 100° plus rarely lasts longer that three weeks, usually about one week. The really, really hot weather that is. And when it hits, it's actually a SIGN that things are about to get better.

In the meantime, and this is the important part, don't exist just to get through the parts we don't like. Do what we can to make them better. Don't simple endure.

Nothing lasts. Life is up and down hills.

I have lived long enough that I can look back over my life and see all the deep valleys where life was really bad. Hospital stays. Abuse. Constant pain. Hurt.

And I have always come out of them. Every time. Even when the valleys are pretty wide ones. My last bad one was a around three years!

But I am finally coming out of it. Every week I see another victory, another thing that makes me smile and laugh and love all the more.

No matter how deep and wide the valley you might be in right now, know that you will get past it. Do not make it worse by obsessing on it, wallowing in it. Focus on the things you love. A person or friend. Cartain movies or books or music. A pet. Lolcats. And the sure knowledge that nothing lasts.

Put on some quite music. Maybe some affirmations. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Breathe. Count your breaths. Smile. Smiling releases "neuropeptides that work towards alleviating stress." **

Today I am so blessed to realize and know two things.

One, when I have a different opinion than someone else, and they have a different opinion than me, we are all just being human. Our experiences shape those opinions and we often feel very strongly about them. The key lies in not taking this personally. It's all okay. We're all the same really. Just human beings living our lives. And that is a miracle. I am learning one more thing to help my on my journey.

Two, that I remember once again that nothing lasts. Winter will pass. It will get better. It always gets bettereven when if feels like it is never going to. I already made it through the subzero weekend. It's warming up this week (mostly). Weather forecasters predict in will be in the 40s a week from today. And when I am in my office, I am really warm. And I have two loving men in my life and two loving dogs. I will be fine. No. Strike that. Reverse it! I am fine.

And you know what? You're pretty darned fine as well!

Namaste my Confidants!


BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas

Jan 15, 2024, Entry #015

"Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart."

~ Victor Hugo

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You are Awakening, grasshopper. 😉 Namaste.


When I was in college and dreading having to write a term paper or take an exam, I’d tell myself, “In a week this will all be over with.” I could make it through a week, right? Somehow that made it easier to cope. Or as my dad would say when I’d manage to hurt myself as a kid, “The scar will be gone by the time you get married.”

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I love this.

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