I absolutely suck at measurements and distances. I have no idea how far a mile is. I know I can speed walk a kilometre in about ten minutes but I cannot use my eyes to judge that a kilometre is from this point right here to that point down the road. Maybe if someone took me up in a helicopter and showed me what a kilometre or a mile looked like, I’d probably finally get it. But that hasn’t happened so I fudge along as best as I can.
I can’t guesstimate how much a thing weighs just by picking it up. If it doesn’t have a label stating its weight then I have to use a scale because I have not a clue about weights. I think the closest I’ve come to being a good guesser in this regard is being able to kind of know if my luggage is too heavy just by picking it up, but even then it’s a crap shoot for me.
Guessing temperatures with reasonable accuracy is also not a skill that I have. Why would I need to do that when I come from a place where the temperature is basically always the same and checking it is unnecessary anyway? Nobody in Jamaica watches the weather report to find out the temperature for the day. We basically look out the window to see if it looks like it will rain today. If it does, we grab an umbrella. The temperature may fall a little but not so much that it will affect any other decision that we have to make, such as whether or not to adjust our clothing choice.
Although it’s technically been metric since the seventies, Jamaica officially went metric about twenty years ago, by my recollection. However, I didn’t. I was still having trouble with the imperial system of measurement so I didn’t see the need to attempt to convert my mind to the metric system. Even on brief jaunts to other countries that were metric, I never felt the need to get my mind in gear in that direction. Indonesia is metric but the weather is either hot and humid or rainy and humid so I never once considered converting my mind to metric. Besides that, before I started going far and wide, I was mostly travelling to the US anyway and they’re definitely not metric. So overall, I didn’t feel a pressing need to grasp metric measurements. But out here, beyond non-metric America and beyond static weather, the wider world is metric and I’ve finally decided that I need to be metric as well.
Ironically, it started with the weather. I’m finally living in a place where the weather matters and is a valid daily topic of conversation. During the early part of autumn when we had those few Indian summer days of unseasonable warmth, the talk in the teachers’ room at school was about the 16⁰ Celsius temperatures. People were still wearing coats and scarves but everyone was running off to enjoy outdoor activities while the sunny warmth lasted. A couple of weeks later, after we had been in the single digits for several days, someone told me to enjoy the next day, which was a Sunday, because it was supposed to be about ten or eleven degrees. That person planned to do some outdoor activities with their family so they could enjoy the relative warmth of the weather.
Whenever these conversations came up, I’d find myself going to my weather app in order to do the conversion so I could have a familiar frame of reference. One day, I decided to stop. I can’t keep having to look up conversions every time someone mentions a metric measurement, especially when it comes to the temperature. It’s ridiculous, especially considering that I live smack dab in the middle of a metric society. So now I’ve opened my mind and decided to allow my mind to process a new measurement system, starting with the weather. I switched the default temperature setting on my weather app from Fahrenheit to Celsius. Since I did that about a month ago, I’ve only checked the Fahrenheit conversion twice, so I feel like I’m making some progress.
As far as non-weather related measurements go, I haven’t made much progress there. Because I buy my usual six litre bottle of water every week, I know what six litres feels like but I can’t honestly say that I could pick up a bottle and guesstimate that it weighed a litre. Similarly, I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t go to the market to buy vegetables and guesstimate a kilogram of carrots.
Why is this important? Why am I even talking about metric conversions? Well, the way I see it, this has to do with a mental attitude, which is important. If I’m going to exist and thrive beyond familiar borders then I have to change my thinking to become flexible and agile. I can’t hang on to old ways of thinking or refuse to finally wrap my mind around a new way of thinking because I’m too lazy to allow myself to do it or because I have an app that will do my thinking for me. Just as I need to be able to switch between speaking English in my interactions at school and speaking Russian in my interactions outside of school (I’m working on that), it’s the same way I need to be able to mentally adapt to metric or non-metric if I want an easier shot at having a successful new life.
But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. James 3:17 (AMP)