Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Dog Days

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

July 27, 2005

This essay, Dog Days, is the companion piece to It is also the prequel to Dog Days II.

These are the endless no relief dog days of the July and August one hundred degrees and hotter California summer, and the ferocious heat doesn't care who you are.

In the distance from a hissy untuned tinny radio comes the wavering solo voice of a strangely disinterested doo-wop balladeer singing a slow throbbing song to no one in particular. The oppressive heat mutes even his most daringly romantic inclinations which hang in the searing oven dried air like unblown clouds. As I listen, beads of sweat form on my brow. I let them run. My shirt is damp - cool when I move, sticky when I don't. I keep within myself - conserving energy.

Parched cattle huddle under thirsty trees seeking protection in their minimal shade. The river where they usually drink is bone dry, the rocks and pebbles on the long exposed river bed bleached white by the fierce sun. It means they will have to walk again in search of water and they wait for the protection of sundown. Occasionally a calf rustles through crisp dried grasses in search of something green to eat. There's none, so it's forced to crunch on browned dried stalks of long since perished weeds. Buzzing flies seeking the moisture on its eyelids compound its plight. The flies don't have water to drink either. There are no airconditioners for cows nor water coolers for flies.

And even though there are airconditioners and watercoolers for human beings, twenty human beings died in Phoenix Arizona in a four week stretch of one hundred and fifteen degree heat. Contemplate this: dying of heat in a major city having every modern amenity ...

Still the heat is not sympathetic. The ensuing days are just as hot if not hotter.

A flock of buzzards soaring slowly high overhead, wings outstretched unmoving, ride the thermals in lazy circles waiting for something down there, beyond where I can see, to expire from dehydration. It's relentless. They soar. They wait. And they wait. And they wait ... for the inevitable demise.

Two buzzards drop suddenly like stones, swooping below my horizon of vision. I hear a cawing altercation erupting. I see a cloud of dust rising. If whatever is down there wasn't yet dead from the broiling heat, it is now ...

The buzzards don't care. This isn't something you can control. This isn't something your complaints matter to. This isn't something your opinion impacts. This isn't something your distress softens. And the heat doesn't care about who you are nor about your hopes and dreams and aspirations nor about your bank balance nor about all your good deeds. It ... just ... doesn't ... care ...

Managing the heat during these dog days is in part a matter of common sense. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body. Wear appropriate clothes. For some, that may be lightweight shorts and teeshirts. For me, I prefer to cover my body with slacks and long sleeved shirts, having immigrated to the United States from the Fiji Islands in the tropics, and having learned there that my body responds better to heat when protected from direct sunshine by slightly heavier clothes than when more exposed to it and covered by lighterweight clothes. If you listen to your body it tells you what it needs.

That's how you manage the heat.

However none of these strategies addresses our pernicious reaction to the dog days which is the tendency to complain about them to anyone who will listen, as if somehow a mistake has been made and we have been wronged for which we are unjustly charged with discomfort.

Any one of these three processes transform the dog days:

1)  When it's hot, create it being hot;
2)  When you're hot, be hot;
3)  When you're hot, be hot and recreate it being hot.

That's how you master the heat.

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