When the rain finally came, it fell as if from the lip of an overturned bucket, then as though someone had tipped the earth and spilled the ocean. Wave after wave of water splashed down. My windshield wipers could not keep up so I pulled off the road and sat listening to the hammer of the drops on the roof of my car.
It’s like that sometimes. The gray clouds hover, you expect rain, but what you get is a deluge—more life than you can handle at one time. It further occurred to me as I watched the slide of water over the window that no matter what happens in nature, there’s a mirror of human behavior somewhere in the event.
My own life’s weather has been tempestuous with just enough calm moments in between to suspect that there will always be more. The storms still catch me unaware, however, despite the warning signs, the rumblings of discontent like far off thunder, the harsh words and heavy silences that precede the tempest.
I was taught as a child to harness the lightning that threatened to blast relationships to smithereens in one brilliant, violent flash. I was severely reprimanded for pulling my brother’s ear in an argument, was punished for biting and kicking and scratching to settle a score, was banished to my room for outbursts of verbal wrath. Slowly but surely I built a container for my anger, put up walls. I wore deliberate kindness like a suit of armor and learned that what you practice in earnest can become an integral part of you. There were always chinks in my armor, though, and I was continuously breaching the walls to see if the climate outside my own sense of self had changed.
As a teenager, I channeled my intensity and passion into safe outlets, pouring my turbulent thoughts into stories and diary entries and poems. I created happy endings where none existed, wrestled with fears, practiced acceptance, wrote and rewrote my real life into something I could believe in. I learned that I could be at odds with everyone else’s real life and still be secure in my own.
As an adult I’ve come to see the mirror in natural events as an aide to figuring things out. Just as surely as I knew the rain sluicing over my car and obliterating the highway would ease and finally cease, I know too, that storms of the heart blow themselves out. The incessant winds that ride the sky, winds that change the world just by moving through it, blow the tears, like the rain, away.
I have learned that, try as I might to outrun my life storms, they always catch up with me. Far better to stop by the side of the road and wait them out, letting the rain and the tears wash down, revive, cleanse, release, than to shake my fist in helpless anger at a natural turn of events. Gradually, as I sat thinking these very thoughts, the rain ceased pounding, became a gentle patter. I eased my car back onto the highway, safely along a road I could now see.
Hilary for the POTW mention!