During my freshman year of college I lived with a girl named Lizzie. Lizzie hailed from Salt Lake City, Utah, and she was not a Mormon.
I have many pictures of Lizzie in my memory: Lizzie digging her hand into her giant popcorn bowl; Lizzie covered from head to toe in shaving cream; Lizzie with a red letter “R” painted on her stomach. One of the most vivid memories I have of Lizzie is of her sitting on the covered porch outside our dorm, looking up at the pouring rain and flashing sky, experiencing her first Arizona thunder storm.
Each streak of lightning burnt palm tree silhouettes into the steel-grey clouds. The thunder that followed rolled across the sound waves like boulders shaken from a mountainside. And Lizzie sat with her arms wrapped around her knees, in awe.
As a native Arizonan, I too used to gaze up at the sky, smile as drops hit my skin, inhale the scent of dampened creosote plants and give thanks for the rain blessing the parched desert earth.
Yet living here in Paris made me forget my gratitude. It is not hyperbole to say it rained all winter here. Nor is it an exaggeration to say Paris had no spring. Now, when the first day of summer is only 4 days away, the weather fluctuates between June and November.
Hence, when raindrops began to fall onto my plate as I sat on my balcony eating tonight’s dinner, I felt annoyed and depressed.
But then I remembered Lizzie.
That picture of her admiring the bursting summer sky helped me remember that rain is not always a thief who comes to take the sun away. To some, it is a messenger bearing a reminder that Nature, maybe even God, does exist.
The attitude and perspective with which we approach reality have the potential to empower or to sabotage, to enrich or to deprecate. Although we may not be able to self-determine where we are born, who our parents are, or what language we learn from birth, we can decide how we engage with the world around us and what we leave to others or seize for ourselves.
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are,” George Bernard Shaw said. “I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
A raindrop can contain a challenge or an opportunity— so too can life. One need only decide whether to cringe at the mud or celebrate the miracle.