I wake at dawn to the clatter of pouring rain, a thousand tempos beating down all at once outside the window. Different sounds clashing as drops of rain fall onto different surfaces, a symphony of sorts, one that I find greatly comforting. I may come from a land of sunshine and heat, but I love waking up to a cold, rainy day. There is something cleansing about it, something soothing about not only the sounds, but the slick wetness of the world outside, the way everything slows down a little, the way our minds somehow slow down with it. It’s even better when we don’t have to go to work or school or out into the weather for any particular reason, because a rainy day seems to give everyone a perfect excuse for not so much ‘doing,’ but for resting, for sitting back, observing, and being. It’s a great time for not forcing anything out of ourselves, but rather to take the world in for a change.
I had a delightful conversation with a friend over coffee last week, one of those lovely conversations that seems to hit on every subject while lingering on none at first, then coming back around to the most interesting topics and exploring them a little more in depth. From making things and writing poetry to the different paying jobs we’ve had; from Scandinavian cultures to raising children in Spain; from knitting circles in the Ukraine to the tricks and techniques of recycling sweaters into yarn…we seemed to hit every topic that was near and dear to our hearts, including life itself. How it’s happening all the time, how it passes by us while we’re busy doing other things, or wanting other things, or trying to be other things…we lingered quite a while on the topic of life lessons, mainly being open to what unfolds, and not trying to force things into being the way we think they should be.
The thing about life, the wonderful thing, is that is has the great and delightful potential to surprise the daylights out of us from time to time. Of course, not all surprises are good, or even welcomed, but all the same, they come, reminding us that no matter how carefully we try to streamline our lives into what we think they should be, we aren’t really in control. And this isn’t always a nice feeling, even if what surprises us is a beautiful, wonderful thing, because sometimes the good can still throw our equilibrium off, make us feel like we’re losing balance somehow, like we can’t predict our lives anymore the way we could so easily before. Being open to what unfolds is not always easy, and not a concept every person can wrap their mind around. What does this phrase even mean, really? Is it new age hype, or a real and honest way to live life?
Simple – to be open means to live in a state of not trying to force into being what we think should happen, but doing instead just what the rainy day is inspiring me to do…sit back, relax, enjoy, observe, be…and let go of the idea that you need to know what lies around every turn. To be open to what may come is about allowing yourself to be surprised in a good way from time to time, and loosening the stranglehold on your psyche that a need for control can create.
Life is like the weather, really. It’s a force of its own, something we might can predict and try to prepare for, yes, but something we have to actually experience to know. How many times have we cancelled plans because a storm was supposed to be coming, only to step outside into sunshine hours later and realize the weatherman was wrong? We don’t tend to think of this, rather we think of all the times sudden, unpredicted rain poured down on our parades. It’s much easier, after all, to be pessimistic, because a pessimist never gets let down.
Trying to force our lives onto a certain path is as futile as trying to control the elements…it simply can’t be done. But our thoughts are powerful things, and they help to create easier journeys on whatever paths we choose. With our thoughts, our ideas, and our dreams, we open doors for ourselves that can take us down new roads and into new destinies, because destiny does exist, life is not just a happenstance set of experiences that make no sense in the end. Even the most logical of brains can see that there is some order to all that happens, and, as some great thinker whose name I can’t recall once said, ‘often the greatest sense of order is to be found in what appears to be the greatest state of chaos’.
With writing poetry, we can’t force what we want to come anymore than we can force changes in our lives or changes in the weather. We must simply remain open, and remember the fact that we are always growing and that we are unpredictable, so why should we expect our lives to be so streamlined? Why do we feel that we need perfect order to create anything good? I have a friend who made a whole ‘office’ of sorts in a spare bedroom, with elegant furniture and the most state or the art computer available at the time, only to find that her best ideas still came from writing freehand in a spiral notebook late at night, lying in bed watching old sitcom reruns. But really, she knew this all along...she just felt that somehow it wasn’t right, because it didn’t fit the image in her mind of how she thought she should be doing it.
And so, as I close this, a new year unfolds, and the rain outside my window slowly comes to an end. The song of at least a hundred birds picks up from where the melody of the rain leaves off, and the sun peeks brilliantly from behind a cloud. An unexpected shift, a change in the elements, and what I thought would be a rainy day now suddenly becomes just the opposite of that. This next statement will probably make my boyfriend shake his head in wonder at me, as I’ve mentioned before he works for a company that develops tools and instruments for accurate prediction of the weather, but I rarely look at the forecasts. I use my own judgment instead, and I prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and remain open to whatever comes. If I’d checked the forecast this morning, I might have seen that the rain was due to taper off, and that the sun would come out after all…and I’d have never been open to the beauty and peace that lie in the sounds and sights of a rainy day. Instead, I’d have just spent the morning hours waiting for the sun to shine because someone told me it was going to.
Don’t try and control every aspect of the journey. Instead, remember that the greatest blessings often roll into our lives on the wheels of chaos, and the journey to achieve our dreams might not always be on the road most traveled...just prepare for the ride, buckle your seatbelt, and remember its okay not to know what’s around the bend sometimes.