“It was one of those March days, when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it was summer in the light, and winter in the shade,” wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations. Though much has changed since 1860 when that novel was first published, March weather is just as unpredictable, and life itself continues to defy all expectations.
I can still picture a bulletin board in my elementary school that showed the month of March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. There is debate about that old English proverb. Some say if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb. Some say it’s the other way around. The debate only illustrates the point that March weather is uncertain.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour.” We’ve all experienced what Emerson is talking about. One minute we’re skipping down the sunny side of the street and suddenly the skies darken and we’re caught in an unexpected downpour. This scenario occurs throughout life, both literally and figuratively.
Among his lessons in living, my dad said, “The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability.” He didn’t say this to make me throw my hands up and quit, but rather to prepare me to react to life’s unpredictability with as much grace as possible. His wisdom came in handy in my career as a middle school teacher when carefully constructed lesson plans were often tweaked, altered or completely scrapped due to an unexpected teachable moment. A co-teacher had this sign on her desk, “Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape!”
In an article in Psychology Today, Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D. offers some ways to cope with the unpredictability of life. Her ideas include relying on a support network, avoiding media that generates negative feelings, and understanding what is and isn’t within our control. “We don’t have the power to control our world or other people’s actions and decisions, only our own,” she writes. “Once we accept the limits of our power to control, we can let go of a lot of stress, anxiety and misplaced responsibility.”
Another good way to face life’s unpredictability is to laugh and smile. She writes, “When we smile, our brains kick into ‘happiness gear’ and dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are released – all feel-good neuropeptides.” In a similar manner, laughter protects us against stress and anxiety. “Learning to laugh at yourself,” she writes, “is a crowning achievement that puts you in a good place to control the way you react to life when things don’t go as planned.”
Humorist Mark Twain said, “A great great deal has been said about the weather, but very little has ever been done.” Trying to control life is almost as silly as trying to control the weather. March weather, especially where I live in southern Illinois, reminds me of this childhood tongue twister ~ Whether the weather be fine or whether the weather be not. Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot. We’ll weather the weather whatever the weather whether we like it or not! §
“I don’t make plans, because life is short and unpredictable ~ much like the weather!”
~ Al Roker, veteran weatherman