Greener Grass

I have lived in the UK for over eight years. There are things I love about this country. But I still don't completely understand the weather obsession. OK, maybe I understand it, but it can be irritating. I know it's a good small-talk starter. And some people might even go so far as to say Brits love to complain. However, on the contrary, I believe that when it comes to the weather, Brits are actually incredibly optimistic.

Often when I'm talking to someone and they're beating up on the weather as usual, I actually comment that, you know... the weather isn't that bad in this country. Winters are much milder than where I'm originally from (US East Coast) and summers are much less sweltering. You can practically wear the same wardrobe all year! (Actually, that's not true. Coats are a real problem here – you need about seven different kinds – including a summer jacket that doesn't look ridiculously wintery but still keeps you warm when you are at summer barbeques.)

So when I ask my fellow adopted countrymen and women what kind of weather it is that they would like, they say, "Oh, about 21 degrees and sunny." For those American readers, this is room temperature, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So what they want, in fact, is not a hotter climate, like in continental Europe, but a perfect climate. Those Brits, the eternal optimists.

What they don't understand is you get the bad along with the good. If you want some perfect predictable sunny weather during the cooler months of the year, then you usually pay in the summertime with incredibly hot temperatures where the sun is beating down and you have to run for a pool or an air conditioned building. Or, if just want warm sunny summers, like on the European continent, you get much colder freezing winters.

The British Isles could use a little more sun, I'll give them that. But otherwise, people should try to appreciate what they have here instead of longing for the perfect life. I do get homesick for the hot summers of my childhood where I could be outside all the time, riding my bike and going to the town pool or running through the lawn sprinkler. But that's a fantasy too – I don't exactly yearn for my adult days in New York City, walking to the subway only to be drenched in sweat by the time I got to work.

My point is that the grass isn't always greener. Just like there is no perfect weather, there is no perfect life. I think envy is a pretty common thing these days (and probably always has been). Other people's lives can often seem so much better, if not absolutely perfect from the outside, but the reality is we don't often get to see below the surface.

I often wonder if it would be better if people were more willing to air their dirty laundry. I was talking to one friend about it and she said that we can't do that all the time – that we have to play certain roles within our lives, like at work, for instance. I think that's true, but there's definitely something to be said for being open about the things we experience and sharing them with others so we can all feel more connected. I was reading an interview of actress Shelia Hancock in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine and she talks about the memoir she wrote about her late husband John Thaw after he passed away. She said, "When I was writing I thought people would be interested in our lives as actors. What I didn’t get was that the grief would be what readers related to."

We all experience similar things in life -- grief, sadness, stress, but also joy. By sharing our experiences with others we might just gain a greater understanding of ourselves as well.

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