We Get Used To Things

When we moved to Ireland, we were cold all the time. Our bodies were used to heat, and for all the truly wonderful things Ireland has to offer, it simply doesn’t come with that feature. There’s a reason the Romans called this island “Hibernia”, the “land of winter”. But unlike the Romans, we stuck around. At first, we got funny looks from our neighbours because we wore coats even when they were breaking out their shorts. Over time, though, we acclimatised. Now we say “It’s roasting”, and mean it, on days we used to describe as chilly. Our temperature scale really is different. Once, when we visited America, one of our young children asked me, greatly concerned: “Dad—I’m getting wet? On my forehead..?” He didn’t know about sweat yet. He didn’t know that I grew up in sweat. When he walks out the door into an Irish summer, he doesn’t hit a wall of heat and humidity, and neither do I anymore. We’re Hibernians now.

Being adaptable is one of the great strengths of humanity, but like any human strength, it also hides a weakness. When we first came to Ireland, I was perpetually in awe of the tangible history and natural beauty surrounding me. Almost a dozen years later, I’ve gotten used to it. Now I have to work harder to remind myself of the things I used to see and appreciate immediately. I guess you could say I’ve acclimatised. 

It happens all the time. Humans can adapt to almost anything, good or bad: natural beauty, pandemic restrictions, loving families, domestic abuse, political corruption, healthy communities—you name it, we can adjust to it. That can be helpful, of course, but there’s also a danger in it. In adjusting to good realities, we can tend to overlook and neglect them. In adjusting to bad realities, we can tend to fatalistically accept more than we should. 

I’m thankful for the ability to adapt to the realities I see around me. I just don’t want to adapt so much that I end up blind to what they really are. I don’t want to stop seeing, just because the things I’m looking at have become familiar.

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