I grew up in rural Illinois. During winter we had plenty of ice, snow, and cold but seldom was the cold intolerable. Indeed, we were outside in most weathers, the exception being the occasional ice storm. Tomorrow’s high in west-central Illinois is forecast to be -9F, with crushing wind chills. Wisely, many communities have already cancelled school. That kind of cold was largely outside my experience as a child.
Extreme weather events, including cold snaps, are symptomatic of global climate change. While much will be said and written about the frigid temperatures in the Midwest, very little attention will be given to the corresponding warmth in the Arctic, even though both events only become truly meaningful when understood in tandem.
We live in a strangely myopic time, an era of fragmentation and disconnection, of misdirection and omission. Sometimes it seems that the local is only acknowledged as a fragment of experience, a datum carefully taken out of context.
And yet, we humans are inherently programmed to seek context, to make stories that place us in firm relationship to the wider world. Without context, our lives lose meaning and our experiences seem “crazy”. Traditional healing and psychotherapy share a desire to help individuals, families, and communities find context for their experiences, to relocate themselves in a world saturated in meaning. The task is now both more important, and more daunting, than ever.