Long Walks On Leafy Streets

1/30/2021 Montreal, Canada    
Waiting for the snow

The weather people are predicting several inches of snow for D.C and the surrounding regions tomorrow. Today was the calm before the storm. Sunny with temperatures in the upper thirties. Took Prashant to play in the Lamond-Riggs recreation center. We kicked a soccer ball around for a while and then he played on the slide pretending to be a pirate and asked me to pretend to be a monster. He is very excited about the snow tomorrow. When his teacher asked his class to tell her their favorite season of the year he mentioned winter. Asked why, he said it was because he can play in the snow, making a snow man and throwing balls of snow.

So far this year we have only had a quarter of an inch of snow. Last year all season we got even less.
As a result of global warming our wintertime temperatures are mostly above freezing, i.e., 32 degrees Fahrenheit. About 100 years ago, we used to have something like 24 days in winter when the daytime high temperature was below freezing. In the last 30 years that has come down to about 7. That in turn means we are getting less and less snow. I was telling the students in my Patterns in Math class about this, and how climate change has drastically changed our world, but we hardly seem to notice it. This is a basic math class at the freshman level that I am teaching using examples from environmental science.

This week did bring some good news for people concerned about climate change. It has been very encouraging to see the actions taken by the Biden administration so far. GM has announced that it would stop making internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles soon and electrify its entire lineup of cars. Many countries are aiming to ban ICE vehicles completely within a decade or two. My big hope is that the actions taken by people everywhere would all add up to have a significant enough impact that we can leave our children with a planet that is not changed beyond recognition. In this regard the article "After climate alarmism" in the New York magazine is very encouraging as well as eye-opening.

I have learned from practicing meditation and from the teachings of the Gita as well as the Buddha, that one cannot be too attached to anything. Yes, the world is indeed beautiful. One cannot but be sad to see all the things that are happening. But all things in this world are impermanent. While we love and cherish everything in the world, we must also learn to look at the deeper beauty, the one that would be eternal. I treasure every moment I am able to spend with Prashant. I am still not at a place where I am emotionally able to let go of the attachment, although I am always telling myself that everything in this world will pass. Thich Nhat Hanh has a beautiful way to think about this. He says our actions are our continuations. Everything we do, every moment, will have its ripple effects and continue through eternity. It is part of his teaching of interbeing that I wrote about last time. We are all waves of the same ocean. As in John chapter 15, we are all branches of the same vine.

Thich Nhat Hanh is also fond of saying how happiness and suffering are two sides of the same coin. These past ten days I have been feeling a tremendous amount of happiness. The beautiful, touching ceremonies of the inauguration, the swearing in of a good, decent man as President, the inauguration of our first ever woman President who also happens to be of African and South Asian heritage, all have filled my heart with joy. I still can't believe it when I see pictures of her grandmother dressed in her Tamil-style sari. Yet we know there is much work to be done and keeping the dark side of our human nature at bay would require constant vigilance and energetic action from all of us.

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