It is in moments like this, moments where the level of pain I am experiencing takes my breath away that I pinch my own skin to check that I am still alive, that I am still human, because no human suffering could ever feel this deep… that I think.. I need to find gratitude. Yes, gratitude.
The other day I was driving to school, and I was already running late. My hands clutched the steering wheel, and my face must have resembled something of a gremblin in how I clenched my jaw and talked out loud to any of the cars that were “in my way”. And no, I did not take this moment to be thankful that I was even able to drive to school, I wasted this moment on being frustrated. I took my energy and placed it into something I had no control over, and I wasn’t thankful, and I didn’t use the time I was given wisely. I was coming up on more traffic, and felt myself begin to panic. A school bus stopped to let a child off, and I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel as what was most likely 30 seconds felt like 30 minutes. Just as I was cursing the Gods, school buses, and the clock, a small child hopped off the bus just as it started to rain. It wasn’t a light drizzle, but quite an impressive amount of rain that suddenly fell from the sky. The little girl skipped across the road and made it to her driveway, where she stopped. She stood there with her pink bookbag and slightly discheveled ponytail, and looked up at the sky, smiled, and let the rain fall on her face, completely immersed in the moment and happy to be alive. She smiled at the sky, as if her and the sky had a secret that none of the rest of us knew, and let the rain fall down as she closed her eyes to take it all in. She didn’t care that the rain might ruin her ponytail, or that it felt cold on her face, or that she herself just spent a while waiting in this traffic, she was just happy to feel the rain.
And then, I was happy too. Maybe today I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do, but I did get to see the rain. And I did get to see sheer joy on another person’s face. Maybe I am sick today, but there were days in my life when I wasn’t sick. There were days I will never forget, and they live in my heart. I pull them out on painful days like this one, they make me feel alive when otherwise I feel like I am about to die.
One day when I was about 8 years old, my cousin Samantha and I were taking a walk down my neighborhood street. It was a hot summer day, one where the air is almost too thick to breathe, but we were too pleased with our new independence and the fact that our mothers were allowing us to walk down to the end of the street and back alone to let that get in our way.
Suddenly, the sky turned dark gray. Clouds ran across the sun so fast, it was if they were running from the strong wind that was coming. The sky opened up, and rain emerged from the clouds so fast and so hard, it was all we could see.
She took my hand and we ran like I have never run before. The hard rain pounded on our bodies and we yelled out in pure joy and excitement as we ran up the street together, our feet pounding the pavement, steam rising from the ground, the smell of summer dewy rain filling our noses. We reached my door, and we were safe, and we looked back and saw a rainbow. I’ve never seen a rain like that again.
Some people curse the rain. It’s damp, it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s depressing. It is anything but convenient, or happy. The rain never happens when you want it to, or need it to, but always when it will be nothing but a frustration.
I think that all we can ask for in life are moments. A few moments, that strung together make up a life worth living. Moments of pure joy, happiness, and love that give an answer to those dark ugly moments we experience. We cannot live every moment in happiness. We simply cannot always be given a life that is pain free. But we can be given this-moments of pure perfection that make your heart beat in a way you never felt before, moments that keep you warm on a cold day and bring you light during the darkness of night. Would I understand the depths of that moment of perfection had I not seen the darkest of days? Maybe not. And ironically, this perfect day..it happened in the rain.