It’s raining in Southern California. Again.
It has rained here 3 days a week for the last month, breaking only long enough for things to dry out before the next storm front rolls in. It has rained more here in the last month than it has the last 3 years. I suppose that’s a good thing. California has long suffered from a drought, but rain makes everything more miserable.
We Californians love our sunshine and we expect the weather to be a tropical sunny and 75 all year long, so we are often ill-prepared for rainy weather. A little water falls from the sky and we all seem to forget how to drive; we navigate around countless traffic collisions and stalled out vehicles; traffic congestion, as if not already bad enough in California, becomes a living nightmare; and most of us don’t own a quality raincoat or umbrella. Thus, we arrive late for work soaking wet.
Earlier this week was one such day for me. There I was stuck in heavy traffic because the intersection up ahead was on 4-way red-flash due to flooding from an apocalyptic rainstorm. My commute was taking me three times as long as it should. The car in the lane to my left pulled up next to me and I witnessed the most precious moment.
There was a 5-year-old little girl sitting in a booster in the rear passenger seat. Her little head, covered under a big yellow rain hat, kept turning back-and-forth from the window to her mother in the front seat. The girl seemed to look right through me as her face and palms were pressed up against the window. Suddenly, she spun her head around with the biggest smile on her face and was bouncing up and down in her seat as her mother rolled down the rear window. The girl immediately stuck both her arms out the window palms up, as if trying to catch the drops of water falling from the sky. I smiled at her innocence, but then she surprised me.
The girl threw off her hat, showing off two brown ponytails, and stuck her entire head out the window. She giggled uncontrollably as she stuck her tongue out catching raindrops, her hair and face getting soaked in the downpour. The smile on the face of that child depicting pure elation gave me pause to think… at what point in my life did I lose that childlike innocence when I felt so much joy from simply getting wet in the rain?
I was sitting in traffic on a rainy day thinking about the conference call I would be on later that afternoon, the emails I needed to reply to in my inbox, the upcoming project deadlines I needed to meet, and my calendar availability for the following week. I don’t have time to stop and enjoy the rain. Life is busy. “Adulting” is hard.
As a former police telecommunicator, I hated the rain. Working rainy days were always the worst. The attitude of callers reflected the gloomy weather. It was unexplainable. Callers never failed to extend their personal sense of self-entitlement. Calls for police response were either traffic collisions or false burglary alarm activations, both caused by the rainy weather. Stupid rain. The ironic part about all of this: I now teach stress-management training classes for public-safety telecommunicators helping them to optimize their health and wellness.
As we grow older and transform into adults, we fail to find joy in many of the simple things from our childhood that once brought us happiness. We get busy; we have responsibilities. Our perspective becomes distorted by noise. We need to reshape our perspective if we want to improve our wellness. Make time to stop and smell the roses, roll in fields of grass, dance in the moonlight, enjoy the simple things we often take for granted… and maybe, just maybe, then even our rainy days will bring us rays of sunshine happiness.