Memory can be so selective. I wrote before about my memories of Canberra in the rain, memories of the stillness and the comfort of the quiet streets of the city. I did mention the few people out rushing to find somewhere warm, so I remember it was cold, but I don’t remember being cold.
Why bring it up now? I spent Monday in Canberra, flying down in the morning and flying home in the evening. Only a quick trip, but I did manage to spend a few hours in the city… in the rain. Even though the streets weren’t as empty as those rainy days of my youth, I felt the familiar calmness as I walked the streets. It was comforting, but oh boy was it cold.
Canberra in the rain is cold. That can be taken as a simple fact of life. If I make a list of words about the city of my youth, cold is one of the first words added. Terms like wind chill factor were understood and lived by. When I moved to Queensland, it took me over a year to not pull a jumper on everytime it rained. Believe me, that led to some really uncomfortably overdressed (read sweaty) days in my first year here.
Back to Monday. The first hour walking the streets was the equivalent of a cold slap in the face. No, make it a cold slap head to toe. Even with my enjoyment of walking through familiar places that first hour was cold and miserable. I couldn’t help but wonder why memories of working in the city, actually why many of my memories of Canberra don’t include feeling cold.
As my first hour passed and I was about to put my selective memory about cold down as one of life’s unimportant little mysteries, a thought floated across my mind… think warm and be warm. Ding. Have to love those bell ringing moments. A little out of practice, but I gave it a go. Stop thinking about the cold. Hmm, easier said than done. To help jumpstart the process I forced a few sunny beach scenes through my mind.
What happened? I stopped shivering and the cold… retreated. Interesting. I was still aware of the cold and I melted with pleasure every time I walked into somewhere warm, but the cold was no longer lodged in the front seat of my mind. It sat quietly in the back seat and let me enjoy the rest of the day without shivering uncontrollably and without having to listen to… it’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold over and over again in my mind.
As with so much else, it’s all in the mind. Canberra and rain equals cold, even if summer is just around the corner. That’s a fact of life. As to the memories, if the cold wasn’t the focus of the experience then it didn’t become the focus in the memories. Drumroll please… another of life’s unimportant mysteries solved.