Life repeats itself and yet people have short memories. A good example of this is in how people discuss the weather.
In New York, we recently experienced a seven-day heat wave where daily temperatures topped 90 degrees. It’s the middle of July, the hottest month of every year, so it’s not a surprise that it’s warm out. But it seems people think that whatever they are experiencing is the worst, biggest, most extreme experience. This type of self-entered focus on the present always amazes me. People have no historical perspective on anything – from weather to sports to politics to the economy.
Here’s a news flash: it’s hot outside. The summer gets hot, every year without failure. Some tend to be a little hotter than others but no one will confuse summer with late fall.
People just tend to complain. In the winter, we whine about the cold, the wind, the snow, the ice. In the spring, we wonder when the rain will stop. The fall can seem pleasant and then one day it cools down and people whisper about how chilly it got. Whether we are experiencing a cold or hot day, we’ll complain. It seems there are only 10 perfect weather days in a year – and usually we’re inside working on most of them.
I recently read NYC once had a 12-day stretch of 90+ degree days, averaging 95 degrees in that period. That was 60 years ago.
In the last 115 years in NYC there have been at least seven instances of seven consecutive 90-degree days, so on average, every generation has experienced this type of heat wave. Nothing new under the sun here.
But don’t tell that to others. You get in an elevator or wait on a line somewhere and people will instantly talk about the heat. Oh, the drama! Yes, everyone is going to die.
We take the heat index approach to other aspects of life. An athlete puts together a few good games and we already champion him as the next Hall of Fame inductee. We see a good movie and all of a sudden we say it’s the best of the year or decade – or ever. We enjoy a good meal and now that restaurant is talked non-stop about, as if we single-handedly discovered it.
And, as authors, we think we’ve written masterpieces, unrivaled and undeniably worthy of a Pulitzer, a movie, and the best-seller list.
I think the heat is getting to everyone, because it’s distorting our perspective and sense of proportion.
Maybe we need a better way of rating, describing, or capturing our experiences so that we don’t let short memories, lack of experience, or a bias to the present distort the relevance of what we are seeing, doing, and experiencing. Otherwise, we’re just like kids who think everything that happens to them is amazing and that the world was only created the day they were born.
It’s hot out, and this summer may average out to be one of the top 10 or 20 summers in NYC’s recent history (it only recorded temperatures from as far back as the late 1800’s), but in the long run, it may mean little. Every summer is hot. Besides, with global warming heating up, we may see every year filled with new weather records for decades to come, making this heat wave look a bit like an ice age.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013
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