“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining, is to let it rain.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I love the story I told in this post from last year. For that reason, I decided to again share the entire, unedited post. This past year I have spent a significant amount of time “letting it rain.” Perhaps not with the same thrill and intensity that I describe below, but I have allowed myself to be there in the rain. I have felt the wetness soak into my hair and my clothes. I have wrapped my arms around myself and tried to calm the shivers. I let the beauty, often lost in the storm, come through: the sweet smell of the shattered and broken atmosphere, the sun attempting to shine through the clouds where they are thin, the edges of the rainbow as it starts to form and take shape… I am learning to be present with the moment, especially when it is stressful and anxiety provoking, and this has made me realize that my experience of those storms will pass faster that they otherwise would if I tried to prevent them from soaking me. My exercises in mindfulness, I know, have made a difference and re-reading this post made me realize that I need to get back into practicing my mindfulness on a more regular basis.
I may not be at that final endpoint of “finding what I had lost” as I describe in the post below. However, I’ve come to realize that the endpoint may just be different. I will never be able to experience I storm like I did when I was 13 years old, but I can experience them in a different way than I used to and that makes them so much more tolerable.
From The Old Blog, November 7, 2014:
When I was a kid, I loved the rain. I remember a particularly gloomy day when I was in grade 7 or 8. You could tell from the look of the clouds in the sky that it was going to rain at some point that day. During class (maybe it was Language Arts, or Social Studies) we could hear the thunder off in the distance. An electricity was starting to build, both in the air and in the classroom. I was always drawn in by the energy of a storm – and it seems that my classmates were as well. We gathered around the windows as the thunder became louder. Bursts of lightening began to fill the sky and we started counting the mississippis between the light and the sound.
The quality of the air changed as the storm moved closer: It was chillier, but not cold, and it had that smell that only ever comes with a thunder storm (is it true that the smell is actually a result of lightening splitting atoms of ozone?). The excitement intensified, and even the teacher didn’t seem to mind that we weren’t working anymore.
And then the rain came.
It pelted hard against the window panes and flooded the uneven tarmac of the school yard next to where our portable classroom sat. I was high on the frenzy that was mounting within me and I had an insatiable urge to run outside and feel the rain against my skin. We asked the teacher, who didn’t seem to care anymore, if some of us could go out in the rain. He dared us. And we did.
I ran outside into the storm with nothing to protect me. The rain was thick and heavy, cool and unforgiving. It hit hard on my skin, but I liked it. It didn’t take a minute before my clothing was soaked and my hair was pasted down on my face. Still, I looked up into the sky and spread out my arms. There were no more mississippis left and the lightening and thunder came together. For a moment it felt like the earth was shaking below me. In that moment I loved the rain more than I loved anything else: I was wild, I was refreshed, I was cleansed, and I was at peace. All of this, amidst the chaos of the storm.
Now when it rains, I still feel that little electrical surge of excitement, but I would never run out into the street to take it all in. I don’t want to get soaking wet – I don’t want my hair to get frizzy. There is usually so much going on that it would seem odd – if not, inappropriate – to just stop everything and frivolously frolic in a rain storm. And, what if I have no choice but to go out in the rain? Where is my umbrella, or my rain coat, or my rain boots? Why, as adults, do we try so hard to avoid the rain?
The storms are going to come; there is no way to avoid them. We expend so much energy and effort on staying in control. We are satisfied if we can prevent the rain from ruining our plans. But what if we just stop for a moment and feel that electricity again – experience it like we did when we were children? It seems as though we lost something along the way into adulthood and instead of finding the beauty in the storm, all we feel is the mess.
The rain will stop eventually. The clouds will clear, the sun will shine, and our wet hair and clothing will dry. So why not enjoy the rain? Rather than fight it, we should experience it’s fullness and feel it’s power. We should emerge from the storm refreshed and transformed, not exhausted and defeated.
There was a reason I used to love the rain: it is something that I must re-discover. When I can freely let the rain come down on me again, I will know that I have found what I have lost.