Sometimes, you just need to exhale. And, be.
Going from one weather extreme to another or one working situation to a completely different working situation is always trying. I have had this experience more times than I care to reflect upon after a 25-plus year career as a contractor. The majority of the time, the transition isn’t that cataclysmic of an experience. But, every now and again, you really end up doing something crazy.
When I decided to migrate to the Middle East for work, I was thinking that it would be hot. I had done hot before. I spent a couple years working in Texas before I came this way. Texas is a hot house in the sunny summer time. It can get pretty hot down that way. Way hotter than New York or Chicago, that’s for sure. HOWEVER, I was in no real way prepared for the extreme change in climate that came with a move to the desert. The Middle East, in the summer, can really only be described as a furnace.
I always used to laugh when someone would say that the heat drove someone crazy. It never really made any practical sense. The cold doesn’t drive people crazy, why would the heat do that? Let me assure you, the heat will drive people crazy! It’s actually crazy how the heat will drive people crazy. (Yeah, I just said that.)
To work outside effectively, you need to plan around the heat. This is hard to do when it is still 100 degrees Fahrenheit at midnight. You try to go do the work during the morning, and hide in the air conditioning in the afternoon. The wise people over here realize that the air conditioning actually makes it worse most days. If you don’t let your body acclimatize to the extreme heat in one way or another, it makes it much worse when you are out in it for extended periods of time. This is an idea that you can’t sell to anyone here. They aren’t buying it, especially if there’s any air conditioning to be had.
Even though it is really-almost-unbearably hot outside, I force myself out into it as much as is practical. I walk places instead of driving the car. I do the outside jobs that need doing, dragging the crew outside against their will. I drink an ever more extreme amount of water to compensate. And, like everyone else, the rest of the time I hide in the air conditioning.
With the weather being what it is, you have to find ways to mentally compensate for the summer heat. Strangely, one of my favorite ways to compensate is to go out to the smoke area and have a soda and a cigar. I don’t do it every day, maybe one day a month or so. I find that it’s always quiet out there, as the heat makes people not want to go out and smoke. Or if they do, they do it as quickly as possible. They don’t linger. This allows me a nice break from the rigors of life in the desert. Granted a Pepsi isn’t a nice glass of whiskey, but in a dry country substitutions have to be made.
The point of this isn’t that you should do seemingly crazy things or that you should go take up smoking or anything like that. The point of this is that if you transition yourself from one environment to another, that transition comes with obvious adjustments, and you need to find things that will add to your calm. Adding to your calm will make the adjustments not be so bad. People tend to get miserable after transitions because they can’t or won’t make an effort to adjust to their surroundings. For people that travel extensively or work all over the planet, this idea of finding something that gives you some calm is very intuitive. For people that are new to the traveling game, or are fixed in their ways to the point that they are no longer pliable, this idea is much more elusive. Well, may not elusive. Let’s say abstract.
Out in the desert, I find that the Bedouin idea of coming together around the tea pot a similar idea as my idea of finding a way to find clam in an extreme setting. They use tea, and I use a cigar and a warm can of Pepsi. Whatever it is that you use to find grounding, I say search it out and use it. Not every day, but now and again. The calm is what you are chasing. Calm can be hard to find in extreme climates and extreme work situations. You need to go out and actively look for it. Knowing when to decompress is as important a part of long term traveling as the movement from one place to another is. You just have to stop once in a while, and exhale. Look around, and see where you are. And, just be.
That’s my two cents anyway….
A boiling hot can of Pepsi and a surprisingly fresh Rocky Patel. Sitting in the shade of the smoke shack. Waves of heat rippling off of the sand in every direction. It’s just good stuff.