It’s been a very rainy summer. I don’t mind summer rain. In fact, when I was younger, I used to love sitting on the warm cement driveway and getting drenched in the warmth and smell of the rain.
But this summer, I was supposed to be logging lots of hours on a bicycle. And I couldn’t really do that when it was pouring rain, which was often (or at least I shouldn’t do that, as my broken rib from last summer’s ride in the rain will attest). So on a recent early morning, when I saw the sky mostly blue and the sun shining after a night of rain and thunder, I decided to fit in a quick ride before work. About a half hour into it, the rain started. Mind you, it was still sunny. And there was even a beautiful rainbow in the distance. But it was raining, and it continued to rain until I got safely home.
This prompted me to think about all the times we get caught out in the rain, metaphorically speaking. Even those of us who are planners and try to take precautions can find ourselves in situations we had tried to avoid or ones that involve more risk than we’re comfortable with. Those of us who are not planners may get caught in the rain more often, but are probably also more okay with it.
So the question is, which should we aspire to? Avoiding getting caught in the rain? Or training ourselves to be more accepting of those situations in which life puts us without our permission? I’m blessed to have people in my life who embody both these extremes, and the spectrum in between. Their experiences are instructive.
Here’s what I have observed. First, you need to distinguish what kind of a situation you may be entering. “Risking” opening a baby’s diaper without having lots of wipes, cream, and a clean diaper close at hand should you find a blow-out is just plain foolish. For those of you unfamiliar with what a diaper blow-out is, imagine instead packing for a camping trip without taking a flashlight or pocket knife. Careless. But there are people who regularly put themselves in these situations, relying on the preparedness of others, or some other form of luck, to get them through the situation. Or not, and they willingly accept the consequences of this lack of preparation. Extra laundry or washing up, or stumbling in the dark, are not, after all, disastrous circumstances. (Hearing a sound in the dark outside one’s tent and not being able to see what, or who, is making it might be, though.)
Not preparing adequately for a work presentation or job interview, on the other hand, is a more serious situation in which to place oneself. So is dismantling something (a piece of furniture you need, a bicycle you use) without taking steps to remember how to put it back together. And for most people, it doesn’t take more than one or two failures in such situations to learn to be more prepared.
So assuming you are someone who prepares adequately for the situations that matter, what do you do when you still get caught in the rain? I’ve noticed a trend that perhaps those who are more prepared find themselves caught in the rain less often, and when they are, often have a contingency plan. But the fact that they are less often caught in the rain also suggests that they are not big risk takers. Since the world needs, I believe, all kinds of personalities, including risk takers and play-it-safe-ers, I will close off with a couple quotes by people far wiser than me, and let you conclude for yourself how willing you are to get caught in the rain.
-T. S. Eliot
-e. e. cummings