The Dog Days of summer officially ended Aug. 11. The hottest days of summer, believed to cause dogs and people to go mad, might not be over, but the term comes from celestial circumstances, not weather. Dog Days are the period when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises in conjunction with the sun, roughly July 3-Aug. 11. Hot, sweaty weather for days on end makes most people and some dogs, cranky for sure.
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Some of us spend the winter wishing for sun and warmth and then when day after day shines bright and hot, we wish for a little cool relief. Is fall coming soon? Just a few crispy cool days to break up the heat, please. Why aren’t we ever satisfied?
Curly-haired people want straight, smooth, hair and straight-haired people wish they had hair with curl, bounce and body. That’s why advertising is such a lucrative business — we all want a promise that we can change the parts of ourselves that seem not quite right.
And we pretty much can. We can change the color of our hair, our eyes, the shape of our noses. We can augment or reduce just about any body part. We haven’t yet figured out how to make anyone shorter, but taller is just a bit of discomfort and two high heels away.
Why aren’t most of us ever satisfied? Satisfaction is a very important key to being happy and successful, but we compare ourselves, our accomplishments and our possessions with others and something is always found wanting. “Enough” is a rare word for us to use; we always want more.
Maybe it’s Captain James T. Kirk’s fault. Every time the crew of the USS Enterprise found a planet that welcomed them and provided for every need and desire, Kirk would throw a monkey wrench in the arrangement. First he would make a lofty speech stating his firm belief that humans are made to struggle and continually reach for more. Then he would stage an insurrection. What if someone had thumped old Kirk right on the head, drop kicked him into a shuttle and shot him back out into space so he could struggle all by himself? The crew might have lived happily ever after and so would Kirk, who would actually get the struggle he wanted. The Star Trek series would have been even shorter-lived than it was, but we would have had a new perspective to mull over: “Wow, Star Trek ended because everyone got what they wanted. Bummer.”
Was Captain Kirk correct? Is it a human need to struggle and continually reach for something other than what we have, or is it indoctrination we have accepted from our culture? What if you had the just exactly the job you wanted and a perfect little home? Could you be satisfied or would our culture imply there was something wrong with you if you weren’t trying for a promotion to make more money to purchase a bigger, better house?
What if you got all that you desired, but you didn’t recognize it? I think that happens to people all the time — they are so busy trying to make things happen and get what they want that they don’t realize they already have it. If it’s all about the journey, is the pursuit of happiness more important than happiness itself?
I wish I heard phrases like “This is just right,” “I am content” and “I’m satisfied with my life” more often — especially from myself. I’d like to know some people who are truly content and not afraid to show it; unconcerned about reaching for the stars and grateful for the life they already have. It’s all Captain Kirk’s fault.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.