Tuesday, March 06, 2007


At least some of happiness is relative. How happy I am in my current situation depends in part on what I imagine the alternative to be.

My happiness just got a big boost when I saw that the current temperature in Cambridge is 6 degrees and there are strong winds so it feels much worse (-16 according to one website). My muscles tense at the mere thought of those temperatures. It is still relatively easy to imagine myself bundled up, bracing against the cold, muttering, "ow, ow, ow" while walking my usual routes.

I was already quite happy with the weather in Oregon. The days are clearly lengthening. I haven't worn a jacket in 4 days. We've had bright, sunny, 65 degree weather. But now, knowing how cold it is in Cambridge my enjoyment of the current situation is enhanced -- at least momentarily.

On some levels, this makes perfect sense, but on others it seems totally crazy. I am not in Cambridge, nor was I expecting to be. Why should the weather there affect me? Couldn't I just as easily imagine myself in someplace with even better weather? Next week, I will be enjoying summer in Australia. Yet, in spite of the fact that I know that it is 80 degrees there, I don't find this knowledge diminishing my enjoyment of the 65 degree weather here. This lack of symmetry is somewhat interesting.

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