My grandmother was born in Phoenix in 1886. When I was in 4th grade, I interviewed her for a class assignment. We sat down and I asked her “what it was like back then?” She said “BC?” I heard my mother (also born and raised in Phoenix) chuckle – apparently BC meant “before cooling.”
Kitty, as we called her, grew up on a ranch located in what’s now the heart of Phoenix – 7th Street and Indian School Road. I’m tempted to say it was cooler back then before the asphalt-generated heat dome kicked in and a quick look at the Arizona State Climate Office website confirms that.
But, still, it was hot. Kitty explained that people slept in screened porches or, absent that, just moved their beds out onto the yard. What about scorpions, etc.? Each leg of the bed would sit in a can of turpentine tinted water which kept the insects on the ground where they belonged. Homes were built with thick walls with windows strategically placed to take advantage of a breeze. Wet burlap was hung in the window above a pan of water, the forerunner of the evaporative cooler. As the house got hot during the day, you moved outside to the shade of big cottonwood or mesquite trees. Summer was something to get through.
Today we’re spoiled with air-conditioned homes and cars. Even so, I’ve come to dread summer more each year to the point that I get a little depressed about these months we have to get through. So, this summer, I’ve decided to change my attitude. I’m not going to whine about how hot it is. Instead I’m going to embrace summer as the thing that brings us 8 or 9 months of fabulous weather. I’m going to make the best of it – get up early to hike and workout in the cool mornings and focus on some long-deferred projects to pass the afternoons with. It’s all about attitude, right?
Which leads me to the point of this blog…finally. The mind is a powerful thing. We can control of our attitude; we can change outcomes by viewing circumstances differently.
Remember Lee Iacocca? He developed the Ford Mustang and brought Chrysler out of bankruptcy. He was inspirational. An anecdote from one of his books has stuck with me. He was having an early breakfast meeting with a business associate in an airport terminal restaurant. Their waitress was disinterested, almost rude. As he left he explained that he wouldn’t be leaving her a tip because of her attitude but would give her something more valuable – some good advice – which went something like this: Even if you’re working in a job you hate, take pride in what you do and do it well. You never know who’s watching and, at the very least, it’s a matter of self-respect.
Lee Iacocca is quoted as saying “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
100 degrees is nothing. I’ll let you know how my change of attitude is doing when it’s 110 outside…