This I Believe

Paul - Tucson, Arizona
Entered on May 19, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in enjoying every drop of rain.

Back a ways, I think when I was in my late twenties…maybe it was my early thirties…I was caught in a bit of a downpour. Honestly, I don’t remember where or when. What I do remember is that I stopped and consciously angled my face up to the clouds with the intent of just taking a moment to enjoy the sensation of the cool rain hitting my skin.

At that moment, as I felt each individual drop splashing on my cheeks, my lips, my eyelids, that my realization came. It wasn’t a flash, just simple, Zen like thought:

In this life, a finite number of raindrops will touch my face. And it’s up to me to enjoy every single one.

In that split second, each drop of rain represented every step I had taken thus far and every path I’d walk until the end of my days. Every person I would meet. Every dog I would pet. At that moment, I made the decision to appreciate every raindrop I would experience for the length of my days.

Now, this moment had been a long time coming. As a compliment to my traditional Jewish upbringing, I had been fascinated by Zen thinking since high school. Through my casual readings into eastern philosophy, I worked hard to grasp the idea of living in the moment and trying to appreciate the world in all its simple beauty. Trying to see the wonder of things through a childlike innocence—unfiltered by all of the psychological baggage that we collect over the years—became a familiar concept that I understood at an academic level, but couldn’t quite put into practice.

The challenge for me became reconciling this child-like way of looking at the world with having to actually grow up. When it came down to it, there were things I liked, and others that I simply did not. For example, I loved college. I hated graduate school. I loved my friends. I reveled in falling for my wonderful wife. I just survived living in Chicago for two icy winters—no small feat for a kid from Tucson, Arizona. I had numerous jobs that started off well but gradually became millstones stretching my tolerance for uncaring supervisors to the breaking point. I have felt the pride of becoming a father to the two most wonderful girls on this planet. And, of course, I have lived the simultaneous frustrations that will be forever linked to those of us enduring the afflictions of fatherhood.

While I’ve enjoyed the beautiful moments for what they are, there have been a lot of moments that I have a hard time looking back on and truly appreciating their beauty.

Today, I am 38. Today, I do make the effort to appreciate every moment. I’ve gotten good at savoring the first sweet crunch of a dark chocolate bar right from the freezer. I’m still working on appreciating the wonder in the compulsive start of seeing the season’s first 2 inch sewer roach scurry under the couch.

But I have gotten much better about the rain. Today, I do appreciate every drop on my skin. And as the summer monsoons approach, I look forward to learning the many more lessons the coming rains have to teach me.