Photo by Anna Blackshaw

Rain always gets the cellos in me going. Something about the darkness, the limited potential of what one can do outside. And the sound of patterned drops falling on the roof – especially a tin one – is a song I slip into.

The other day, coming home through the downpour, marveling at how short the interval between the flash of lightning and the crack of thunder, I felt a desire to let it all go — to let my resolve trickle away like the water gushing down the gutters and spouts. I wanted to say forget it, why don’t we just eat junk food and watch bad movies and allow Rio to stay way up past his bedtime. Let me stop trying so hard to be constructive with the clay of life.

In this yen for an unraveling was a desire to surrender all facades and should-do’s and just be me. And the truth is that the unvarnished me is pretty messy: I love Annie deeply but am sometimes frustrated by the emotional whirlpools we fall into. I love my pistol of a son but am at times overwhelmed by the constancy of his needs. I am grateful that I am passionate but troubled by the days my fire leads to self-inflicted burns.

Still, I count this strange stew as a blessing – not quite happiness, but a lot better than emptiness. Numbness brings me the most despair. In that state, sadness, joy, and surprise are like distant artifacts I might view in a museum, my body safe behind the handrail.

To feel sadness, then, is an integral part of feeling alive, albeit with its sharp blades. Percy Shelley once wrote, “The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself.” My translation: There is no pleasure like the slice of pleasure found in pain.

And this is why I love the rain. I remember when I was a teenager and it rained, I would put on morose music, shut the door on the world, and look out the window. The tears always came. Somewhere along the way I decided to flee from sadness, but I’ve learned to court her again. And there she is, after all this time, with flowers.

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