Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Rainy Night"

One of my favorite sayings: "It rains on the just and the unjust." My hometown here is under the weather tonight. It's coming down in waves and I'm tucked away in a coffee shop, sharing a table with some gals who are studying for their final exam in Intro French. I'm meeting some friends here and am a little bit concerned about finding a place for us to sit. It's pretty crowded. As I wait, I listen to the gals attempts at proper pronunciation and remember how it took me three times to get a passing grade in French when I took it 15 years ago.

So, the rain falls on the just and the unjust, yes? To me, it means that shit happens to everyone. No matter who you are, what your life is like, rich or poor, happy and healthy or otherwise. There are good days and there are bad days. It's called life.

When I was a kid, somewhere around ten or twelve, I was at a weekend camp with some other kids from a local church. We got to the campsite and the rain was coming down so thick that we could barely see in front of us. Instead of reporting for orientation, we took off exploring. We found a river nearby with a rickety footbridge. The dares to cross it began and somehow I ended up accepting the challenge first. It was pitch black. Our flashlights couldn't even penetrate the wilderness on the other side of the river. I strode out onto the bridge. It swayed in the wind and all of us wondered if it would break while I stood out there on the middle of it. I shone my flashlight down and the terror in my heart jumped up to my throat as I saw the rushing waters far below. I felt so alive. Eventually we heard the adults shouting off in the distance for us to return before they called our parents.

Even now, I still love the rain. When it comes, people scatter. They rush indoors, almost like they're fleeing from a shelling of bombs. I chuckle when I see it happen. It's only water--the lifeblood of all living things. Still, they run, afraid they'll melt like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Each year, when the seasons change, I make a point of standing outside in the first good storm. There's something about being outside, feeling the water drops pelt my face, that continues to makes me feel alive. Every once in awhile, I'll meet someone who tells me how they always go outside and dance in first rain of the fall, and I smile, hearing it, because I know exactly how they feel.

What does all this have to do with Recovery? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. It's good to feel alive, instead of the dead I felt in my stoned stupor. It's the simple pleasures in life that are most important, things like standing outside in the rain, or being inside and watching it fall, or lying in bed at night and listening to the sound of it hit against the window. The program calls on us to be more aware of a power greater than ourselves. It teaches us to be present in the moment. When the weather is like this, I find those things easy to do.

I'm not sure if it's ironic, odd, or neither, but I often feel the most at peace when the weather is raging. All our attempts to control, all the things we do to tame our environment. We spend our days in artificially constructed buildings with our air conditioning. We drive from place to place in our temperature-controlled cars. Mother Earth doesn't care about it one bit. The weather still comes, and it comes with a force greater than anything we can counter. It's a comforting thought, to me, of things beyond our control. Whether I stand out in the rain or watch it from inside, I feel connected.

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