Today isn’t raining. But I saw some people walking with umbrellas. It’s not overly hot or sunny, so it wasn’t necessarily to give them shade. It is breezy, but not so much you’d want to protect yourself with an umbrella from the wind. I’m not exactly sure why these people were walking with umbrellas. But I had to ask myself if it was because they were putting it out to the Universe, that they were hoping for rain.
While we’re having quite the drought in California and we definitely could use some of the rain that the East Coast is getting, I know that I have heard more than once in the last several weeks, the desire to have a rainy day. We got close… we had a couple of marine-layer overcast days. But it didn’t rain.
I look at rain as a sign of good things to come, a cleansing of sorts not just for the psyche and spirit, but for the Earth as well. I have two significant stories in my life revolving around rain. Rain taught me some amazing things and it is because of rain, I have been blessed with a cloudburst of beautiful life lessons.
Flashback to El Nino….two significant things happened.
During El Nino 1997-1998 – rain hit pretty hard. And while I was more fortunate than most, I did have a lot of damage. I was also sick with Pneumonia, my mother was in a nursing home struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and recovering from breast cancer, my father had passed, I had two friends who just died, work was slowing down and I had a leak in my kitchen. I sat there with a 103 degree fever in my pajamas with pots and pans all over my kitchen- catching streams, I couldn’t have been more miserable. My garage was attached to a back alley where the windows looked out to the West. When it wasn’t raining, I could see the sun conclude each day, as it would set in the L.A. smog. It was also in this back alley I became familiar with someone I affectionately called, “Vogue Man.”
Vogue Man would always wave “hello” and “goodbye” to me as I would enter or exit my garage in the back alley during all my comings and goings. Sometimes when he was feeling playful, he would jump out in the middle of the alley and leap on the hood of my car to scare me and laugh endlessly at my expense of horror.
One day, I saw Vogue Man at the grocery store. I said ‘hello.’ He stopped his shopping cart to acknowledge me. When I asked him how he was –he shyly smiled and quickly darted his cart away, never speaking, just smiling. I happened to get a quick glance at his cart – filled with Jack Daniels, a carton of cigarettes and a jumbo pink box of éclairs. From all indications, life must’ve been pretty bad… but was THIS how he got through life… it was his shopping cart, his party and he owned it.
I do not know Vogue Man’s real name. All I know is that he was elderly, lived alone and drove an old white truck. And every single day – he would indulge in his sinful habit of coming out in his baby blue polyester smoking pants, put his foot up on the front of his brick fence and ‘strike a pose’ as he lit a cigarette to take in his morning ‘smoke.’ This was a ritual…one where he had basked in the beginning or end of his day to just enjoy a peaceful moment while being outside.
Well, back to my rainy, crappy day sick and on my kitchen floor catching drips… I was watching the rain downpour. I felt sorry for my planter boxes. All my flowers were drowning. And as I got a little closer to take a peek at the flooded balconies, I looked further out the window. To my surprise… I got a life lesson amidst my day of misery.
In the alley, with the garage open, wind blowing and rain pounding – I saw Vogue Man. But he was NOT wearing his light blue polyester smoking pants! He was dancing outside, frolicking in the rain wearing brand new khaki Dockers. Vogue Man had new pants! He was happy, celebrating life, in his victorious way. He did not care that he was getting rained on. He was merely celebrating… ‘the moment.’ And this moment was his alone and no rain could take that away from him or his new pants.
I tapped on the window to get his attention. He looked up at me and smiled. I gave him a ‘thumbs up’ and smiled back and he returned the gesture and continued to dance and spin in the rain. This moment was a priceless gift and a life lesson. And I filed it away in my mind and heart.
The next week, I was glad to be healthy again and the leaks in my roof were temporarily patched. And they were ‘holding’ in the kitchen. Exhausted from all the drama, I was happy to have my first ‘good night’s sleep’ in a long time.
And just as my alarm went off… I felt a drip on my nose. I looked up… my bedroom ceiling was now leaking. Ah … fantastic, just what I needed.
Karen Carpenter put it best ‘rainy days and Mondays always get me down.’ Well this day happened to be a Monday AND El Nino was hitting, I had a new leak. And though I was being ‘spiritual’ thinking of Vogue Man’s lesson to ‘celebrate the moment’ – I was going to celebrate this as one more thing that didn’t kill me, but made me stronger. LOL
A couple of weeks prior to this rainy Monday – I had initiated correspondence with the head of a women’s business organization. It was part of the business ‘networking’ thing I was determined to do once I made a commitment to live in Los Angeles permanently. And I admit I was pretty persistent about it. This woman agreed to meet with me in person. And we had scheduled the meeting for this particular Monday and we were to meet for breakfast.
I was feeling sloth-like…(weeks of fatigue catching up with me) and even though I had a good night’s sleep, who could blame me for feeling like I did not want to get up out of bed, just to be in the middle of rush hour traffic to drive through flooded streets in this hardcore downpour of a rainstorm BEFORE breakfast?! Gads! Though, I was really, really wanting to meet this woman that I had spent time trying to network with.
But when I called to see if ‘the breakfast meeting was still on’ – to my shock, her words of strength, her attitude and demeanor were beyond what I was expecting her to say as she said “Oh it’s just a little rain – wear a raincoat, bring an umbrella – you have to eat anyway!”
So I dragged myself and put Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” voice in my head “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life – jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin,’ out on the streets and traffic starts jumpin….”
And then I arrived at our breakfast destination dripping but smiling. I saw her and we both shook off the water like ducks and started to chat.
Immediately when I met her – I was glued to her energy. She was vibrant and very generous with her conversation and thoughts. It was a great meeting. But business got quickly pushed aside and the conversation got personal – the connection was very psychic and her offerings seemed to be from the Heavens. It was like she was ‘the messenger’ of something very important she had to tell me.
She shared a story about her life, which I will not share here – as that is personal. But she was struggling during a very difficult period in her life. Her life was very stressful, her world filled with chaos, drama and very emotionally taxing times. She said that every day she would run around harried and frantic, just trying to cope.
The gift came from a homeless woman who managed to scrounge up a soup can. The label was torn off of it. Earth’s great soil placed inside and propagation of a plant of some kind taking place. There was a very long, scraggly vine sans leaves, very long, windy, twisty – similar to a life’s journey. And on the very end of it a tiny flower with a yellow center and small, delicate white petals. No other blooms were in sight at all… just this one little, tiny bloom at the end of this homely, leafless vine. And with it came a note that said “If this little flower can make it, so can you!”
She shared this story with me. WOW – it was pure euphoria, epiphanies, revelations and a whole truckload full of feelings that were awakened inside me as I heard this story.
And the rainy season of El Nino made a huge difference in my life. One I’ll never forget. Between flower power over breakfast and Vogue Man dancing in the rain, I changed my outlook on life and haven’t turned back. So many things evolved from this.
This is what got me interested in plants once again….digging my hands in soil, being at one with the Earth and needing to do that to feel Zen in harried times. It inspired me to write my First Grade elementary school teacher and thank her for teaching me about propagation in the first grade. It inspired me to take a Hip Hop dance class at my gym and reinvigorate movement in my life and letting my body be an extension of my expression. And yes, even I must occasionally update my wardrobe rain or shine for my spirit.
These two events reminded me… that will is stronger than anything, and nurturing one’s own garden in life (even if completely drenched)… will encourage growth no matter how challenged the conditions.
In the words written by John Fogerty for Creedence Clearwater Revival… I want to know… “Have you ever seen the rain?”