Are you a rain grump or a rain buddha?

3 10 2009

As I slog around Boston this stormy Saturday, I am reminded that you can tell a lot about people by how they react to the rain.

There was the woman I saw on Washington Street, in the South End, darting feverishly from overhang to overhang and contorting herself as she dodged puddles.  Her tensed body was absolutely panicked it would be get.  Nervous that even a single raindrop would burst the fragile bubble of perfection and control her well-manicured nails clutch around her.  A burst that would toss her from her comfortable cocoon of illusion into the messy reality of, well, reality.  That woman needs a drink, I thought…or a good lay.  Or both.  And I wouldn’t want to be the one to give her either.

Closer to home, I saw a college-aged kid stomping in puddles as his girlfriend laughed uproariously.  Neither had an umbrella.  Their H&M outfits were so drenched that they may as well have been nude.  And they could have cared less.   They seemed to be the kind of people who have mastered the dance of life at a young age (or maybe it was that age hasn’t yet robbed them of the mastery we’re all born with).  My bet is that they greet a downpour with the same sh*t-eating grin they welcome a sunrise.

As for me….well, I used to be a rain grump.  I’m not yet a rain buddha, but I’m making progress.

14 years ago, I stopped being annoyed at rain…and started tolerating it.  I have the first Boston-to-New York AIDS ride to thank for the change.  For 1 1/2 days of the 2 1/2 day ride it rained.  Nonstop. I wore glasses at the time, which meant that I went through the entire state of Connecticut without sight…or brakes.  I distinctly remember going down a steep hill, literally unable to see what the flashing lights at the bottom meant, praying that it didn’t mean I needed to stop (because that would be impossible), and then…suddenly…knowing that a day of rain was nothing compared to a life with AIDS.  “Get over it,” I told my drenched self.  And I did.

Last year, I went from tolerating rain to revering it.  I was in South America at this magical place where the rain forest comes right up to the ocean’s edge.  I was there to spend two weeks doing deep dives with Ayahuasca.  It was the rainy season, which meant that it pretty much rained all day…and all night.  And I couldn’t have been more grateful.  There, immersed in a ritual shrouded in mystery, rain became a life savor.  Its wetness was as warm…and essential…as a mother’s embrace, welcoming me back from Ayahuasca’s vine.  The sound of the raindrops became the thread I would use to trace my way from the darkest crevices of the universal grid back to shore…or at least my chair.

I returned home from that trip forever grateful to rain.  Now, each rain shower offers  a chance to wash away the hurdles we too often let others put in our way (or put there ourselves).  A chance to wipe the slate clean.  To water the soul.

A chance to stomp in life’s puddles, celebrating the gift of being alive…wet or dry.  Shall we dance?

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