Friday, June 26, 2009

Reason #21 - The Rain

I have always liked the rain. Over the last month I have been reminded of a night years ago when my brother Nick called me and asked for a ride home.It was pouring rain outside. I told him to run through the rain. He, of course, declined my suggestion. Then I asked if I ran over to get him, if he would run home with me. He said yes, but I don't think he really expected me to follow through. The next thing he knew, there I was at the door, soaked to the bone, with mascara running down my face. For a moment there was a look of complete shock on his face, and then he grinned and we took off together toward home. It's a silly but sweet memory.

I fell in love with the rain while I was living in New York City. I didn't expect it to be such a rainy place, and there were a few days (such as the day my umbrella turned inside out two steps out of the subway and I stepped off the sidewalk into a knee-deep puddle on the way to work) that I wasn't so keen on the rain. However, a heavy east coast downpour to me, felt like God washing the dirt, the sweat, the pain, the grime, and the heaviness off of the city streets. It lifted my soul.

One night I walked out of a movie theatre on the upper east side just as it was starting to rain. I didn't have enough cash to take a cab home, and I couldn't handle the thought of spending the next hour in the subway. So, I decided to walk. I was walking across the bottom of Central Park in the pouring rain, listening to my music and enjoying the solace of the empty city streets when a man in a rickshaw pulled up alongside me. He asked me if I'd like a ride. I was perfectly content to walk so I said no, thanked him, and continued on my way. He told me he was heading in for the night, it wouldn't cost anything, and he could just take me to the other side of the park. How could I turn him down? Besides, I had never ridden in a rickshaw. So he drove me to the other side of the park and I hopped out to say goodbye and continue on home. I don't remember what we said to each other, and it wasn't significant. But I remember knowing we had shared a sweet moment of humanity.

Tonight I was intent on working on the yard. I knew it would probably rain, again, as it has almost every day for the past month, but I thought I would try to get something done anyway. As I finally accepted the storm's victory over my plans and ran in the house, I couldn't help opening my window and standing and watching the power of the storm take over the night. The lightening was beautiful, and the thunder so commanding. And now as I sit here I am remembering all of my memories of the rain. I am reminded I love to watch it, hear it, smell it, and sometimes even run through it. And I love the way the street becomes quiet as the storm ends, and the sun comes back out, and on some days, a perfect rainbow even appears in the sky.

Maybe part of why I love the rain is because life feels like a rainstorm sometimes. The weight of my troubles takes over and forces me to retreat inside myself to wait out the worst of it. But eventually, the sun comes out, and I am ready to bask in its light. And the storm has given me a whole new appreciation for the brightness of the sun.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reason #20 - Rediscovering childhood in grown-up ways

So last summer I pulled out a mountain bike that has been hanging out at my parents house and decided I was going to start riding it around to help me get in shape. What I quickly discovered was riding a bike is a whole new adventure at 30, compared to what it was when I was 10. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that no matter which way I go when I leave my house, I'm heading uphill, or maybe it has something to do with the concept of riding for exercise versus riding to get where I want to go. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that my little 10 year old legs were used to being extremely active, while my 30 year old legs have to look for ways to be active.

Whatever the case may be, when I pulled the bike back out for the first time this year, I decided it was possibly also the last time I'd be riding it this summer. It was almost impossible to ride for half an hour. But finding something hard sometimes does nothing more than ignite a flame of determination in my little soul. And I've realized I can't let this silly two-wheeled contraption bring me down.

My opportunities for riding have come in spurts. It's been a busy couple of months. But I have found that there is nothing that pushes all of life into the background quite like an hour (or so) on my bike. Not because I love every minute of it. But because I am constantly trying to decide how hard I can push myself uphill before giving up and going across, or down. All of my energy is focused on peddling my legs and moving forward just a little bit more.

Sometimes I wonder how exercise can feel so good when it's just a condensed version of what we do in everyday life. Sometimes just getting out of bed feels a lot like cranking my pedals that last 4 times to get to the crest of the hill, and it doesn't seem worth it to get there because it's not very comfortable. And occasionally I feel like no matter how low I set my gears, it's just too hard to keep pushing forward. But then... I finally get to the end of a journey, and I get to coast down to the end, and look back up the hill and appreciate how high I climbed. And it's exhilarating to know I survived. I made it through one more ride.