A few months ago – I believe it was early July – our city experienced a torrential rainfall.
I well remember the day it began. I had walked two blocks to get my hair cut – the few I have left – and this downpour had begun when I was halfway back to the office.
Naturally, I had no coat and no umbrella. By the time I reached the office I could not have been any wetter had I just climbed out of a swimming pool.
The next day, with no end in sight to the buckets of water falling from the sky, I had two separate and very different meetings with two long time acquaintances.
When the first one arrived for her meeting I could tell immediately she was not in a happy mood.
She was angry and for the first twenty plus minutes of our meeting she told me how much she hated the weather in our city.
It was awful – she couldn’t get a break.
She had just washed her car an hour before the rain started and now look at it.
She had been planning on taking her dog for a long walk but now it was too wet outside.
She has stepped in a puddle on her way into my office and now her left foot was all wet.
We had just experienced one of the longest, coldest winters on record and now our whole summer was being rained out.
And on and on she went. There was nothing good about our weather which convinced her there was nothing good about our city which convinced her there was nothing good about our whole damn province which ultimately led her to the realization that there was nothing good about her life.
And she couldn’t take it anymore.
I gave her my usual speech about how events in our lives are not connected to the way we feel and that the way we feel is caused by the meaning we place on events and not on the events themselves and that we choose the meaning of each event and she could choose a different meaning which would enable her to feel better.
And thus I convinced her there was nothing good about me.
I think I really helped her get her mind off the weather because by the time she left she was not thinking about the weather at all.
Instead she was thinking about how incredibly stupid I am.
Glad I was able to help. It was nothing, really.
The second meeting took place a short time later.
He came into the office shaking the rain off his coat and his opening statement went something like this. “It’s sure coming down isn’t it? Days like this sure make me realize how lucky we are to have a warm, dry places to go to.”
As soon as we had poured coffee and settled into chairs in my office he continued, “It’s funny, you know. I was just thinking about washing my car when the rain started yesterday, Seems God did it for me.
“I had a 2 o’clock tee time yesterday and instead, because of this rain, I finally got caught up on a bunch of paperwork that was piling up on my desk.”
He spent a few more moments telling me how the lemon in the rain had delivered lemonade into his life and ended by telling me that the weather is just weather – we make of it what we will.
After he left I replayed both meetings in my mind and was struck by the stark contrast between them.
They had both experienced exactly the same rainfall and yet the impact on each was so vastly different.
For a while I pondered the answer to this question; how can something over which we have no control so profoundly influence something over which we have absolute control?
Finally – I’m a bit slow sometimes – the answer hit me.
We assign control to it by erecting a mythical bridge between an event in our lives – pouring, relentless rain – and how we feel.
And we believe the bridge is real.
It isn’t. It doesn’t exist.
We choose the meaning of each and every event in our lives. And by so doing, we choose the impact each and every event in our lives has on us.
The pouring rain had nothing to do with her damp outlook on life. The pouring rain was just the pouring rain.
The damp outlook was her own creation.
And I will never be able to convince her of that.
But maybe I can convince you?
If it’s true that into each life a little rain must fall, will you allow that water to drown all joy in your life or will you use it to cleanse your spirit and re-energize your soul?
Either way, the rain doesn’t care.
Till we read again.
P.S. My friends at Self Connection are celebrating their 33 years in business with an open house from 10am until 5pm today. They are located at 4611 Bowness Road NW and if you are close by please drop in and say Hi. I will be there all afternoon shamelessly flogging my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours and will also be doing a brief presentation from 2 – 3pm.
If you can’t make it today, I know they would love to ship you a copy of my book. If you click here they will magically make that happen.
Hope to see you there.