Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dancing in the Rain

I saw it in a posting on Pinterest. I had read it elsewhere before, but today it resonated:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Why did it resonate today? It wasn't just about the gathering monsoon storm that is darkening the skies, making the air thick and the desert fragrant with the lingering scent of creosote. It's what I see and hear and feel around me: complicated lives with a mix of love and pain and tears and laughter.

There is the close and dear friend whose husband is about to go into hospice. Another beloved friend, having survived the pain of uncoupling after many years of marriage, is re-awakening to the joy he had nearly forgotten. There are friends experiencing serious health concerns and new physical limitations. Lives are forever changed by the storms we encounter as we age.

Even in the absence of major losses and challenges, many of us experience some life turbulence: office politics, misunderstandings with friends or family, struggles with troublesome personal traits and flaws. I'm still engaged in my lifelong struggle to find a healthy balance between the work I love, self-care and being present and supportive of loved ones.

While the challenges of my work-life balance issues pale next to some of the life storms my friends are experiencing, I'm increasingly aware of my longtime tendency to defer fun or leisure or time with beloved others until the work is done, the project finished. What is that? I'm in my seventies, for heaven's sake. If I can't embrace all the pleasure and love and moments of happiness now, when will I?

While not everyone has my scrambled life-work priority problem, many of us have a tendency to say "I'll be happy when...." and then name some distant event or goal. It may be that you imagine happiness when you lose that stubborn 30 pounds or when your daughter finally gets married or when, at long last, you take that exotic vacation or when you're able to retire.

But we can be happy now if we see happiness not as the ultimate goal but as something that happens as our lives happen -- in warm memories during times of grief, in joking with co-workers to ease the tension of a difficult team project, in pausing on a busy day to cuddle a sleeping baby or a delighted pet. Happiness happens in a glance, a touch, a moment of quiet intimacy on a perfectly ordinary day.

Especially when one is experiencing a major life crisis or transition, it's understandable when the shock or grief or fear overwhelms everything else in our lives at least for a time. But whether one is caught up in life-changing crises or simply trying to get through an ordinary day that is definitely a mixed bag of emotions, it's possible to know happiness if you can dance in the rain.

This may mean laughing between the waves of pain in the present. The ability to laugh between the pain, to dance in the rain, can make us stronger for the next wave of pain, the next storm, to come.

This may mean treasuring good times, shared love and warm memories even more, newly aware of how finite life can be.

This may mean finding ways to be happy or simply content in between the moments of grieving or of fear and frustration when facing a life-changing health problem. Or between times of setting and reaching a goal: there is joy in the journey as well as as well as the destination. For example, I've learned to celebrate all the numbers on the scale as I continue with my very long weight loss effort. It makes me smile when I think how slender and energetic I feel as the numbers go down -- and remember how fat and terrible I felt at the same weight when I was in the process of gaining those pounds.

This also may mean taming the habit of perpetual busyness -- re-ordering priorities to make room in our lives for fun and love and the beauty around us.

It can mean smelling the roses, cheering another person on, listening instead of planning a response, paying attention to what matters most to those we love.

My friend with the ailing husband cuddles beside him, reading him the mysteries and thrillers he has always loved. From time to time, there is a moment when they pause, smile at each other, and whisper "Love you" and "Love you more." And in their eyes is a heartfelt celebration of all they have shared over the years.

My friend beginning a new life alone after many years of marriage has been through so much pain-- but, as his new life evolves, there is so much to celebrate as well: a stomach no longer tied in knots, a place entirely his own for the first time in his life, a loving family supportive both of him and of his former wife, dramatically improved health, a sense of freedom and quiet contentment.

There are so many ways and so many reasons to dance in the rain.


  1. This is an important reminder. It brings to mind the old John Lennon lyric: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

  2. How did you know to write about me today?

    When I’ve stopped to think I’ve told myself exactly what you are telling me, many times, yet how do I actually follow my (and your) advice? How do I get off this mindset of ‘happiness’, or 'good times', or just plain 'acceptance of what is’ are for tomorrow; tomorrow when I have the time and feel emotionally and mentally capable and receptive of experiencing contentment.

    I am a little better at not sinking into despondency daily, but a genuine awareness of 'today is all there is’ is still a long way off. Something you simple, yet so hard to grasp.

  3. Such a heartfelt post. I agree with you that we can be happy now. I've stopped saying, "I'll be happy when." Sometimes, unfortunately, I replace it with,"I'm just not going to be happy." I'm a work in progress. And I'm off to smell those roses. :)

  4. Thank you. I think most of us need a reminder every now and then to dance in the rain and to appreciate just what it is we do have, not what we don't. For me, humor is that often the bridge.

  5. As I read this my grandson came in from playing in a Florida rain storm. The sun poked through and he called me to see the rainbow. Life can be good.

  6. Is it that we are trying to spread ourselves over all the interests we have, knowing that we won't be able to do them all before we go? I'm rarely bored because I like "my own company;" being able to think, learn, imagine... However, I often wonder what I "should" be doing; feeling that I'm not giving enough to certain people, and not accomplishing goals because my mind is all over the place... as evidenced by this "all over the place" comment. lol
    Great post/thoughts to ponder.

  7. I have learned through much pain, poor health and sorrow that now is the time to be happy. It isn't easy to move in a direction I'm not used to but I am slowly getting there, and clearing out those things and people that drag me down. I just recently had a kidney removed for cancer and you really find out who matters, or to whom you matter. Eye opening. Thank you for your words, they are always wonderful and seem to be sent directly to my heart. take care.

  8. Thanks Kathy... This is something we all need to remember... I always try to count my blessings when I get up each morning... We ALL (even in the rainy times) have lots of blessings... YES---let's DANCE through the hard times.


  9. I try to live my life exactly as you say -- some days with better results than others. But the one thing I have always believed is that when push comes to shove, we have to make our own beds and we can do it with a smile or a frown but doing it with a smile is better. It's awfully Pollyanna, isn't it? Yet it really does work. Part of it is connected to gratitude. When I started a gratitude journal, I realized so many little things really make something big. A sunny day, the neighbor's garden, Lizzie... it all adds up! And dancing in the rain? Sounds wonderful to me!