I do my best to avoid carrying an umbrella, because I never want to be weatherproof.

I never want to live a life where I’m thoroughly prepared for everything that Life will throw at me. I don’t want my first reaction to strains of thunder reverberating it to be popping open my umbrella and unfolding my pocket-sized rain poncho. People who are weatherproof carry it all with them: raincoat. Umbrella. First Aid kit. Emergency cash. Pocket-sized power generator. Fresh batteries. Flashlights. Signal flares. Granola bars tucked in purse pockets.

Just to be ready for anything. Just in case.

In case what? In case it starts raining? In case you get lost? In case you’re hungry? In case life happens? In case you lose control? In case love becomes messy, containable, and painful? In case death pays a visit? In case a disease leads you down a path you don’t want to go?

They do it to avoid danger. Water. Darkness. Lonesomeness. Hunger. Death, even.

They are aware and alert, ready ahead of time for whatever disaster or difficulty may come their way. They armor themselves with all the things they carry, and shout at the storm clouds, ” I know what has happened to humans who have gone before me! You won’t take me. You won’t plunge me to the depths of human emotion. You won’t take me to despair. You won’t raise me to unadulterated happiness. You can’t touch me.”

Weatherproof was what I tried to be in the 3-month gap between high school graduation and my freshman semester of college. I had been filled with joy on graduation day, excited about the future, ready to take on new realities, changes, and adventures. But I felt the need to be weatherproof; to put my hands on my hips, frown, and shake my head, saying, “Shut up, kid. Life is going to suck from now on. Don’t even think of entering your adult years with the goal of constant joy. Life is now a system; a system that survives on just making it through each day. Your joy won’t survive you a month.” Part of me wanted to feel the smug disdain of looking down on those who were hopeful about the future as they crossed the stage, gripping their diplomas.

But I couldn’t be weatherproof, as the following year came to prove. Extremes of joy and grief fell upon my open heart in drizzles and torrents from rainclouds, breaking my heart day by day. I learned that the more I tried to weatherproof my life from unpredictability and common difficulty and my heart from depth of joy and grief, the more baggage I found myself carrying. Everything that I possibly needed I would try to carry with me, but it was a terrible weight.

See, you can’t be fully human and be weatherproof. You can’t show your beautiful face to the world if you’re swaddling yourself in a rain poncho hood. Chances are, because you are human, you are going to encounter the same things that humans have been encountering for thousands of years.

You will probably fall head-over-heels in love. You will lose love. You will lose a job. You will total a car. You will wrestle for a long time with an injury or disease. Death will take your friends and visit your family members. You will have to watch the old linger and the young die. You will have a child, and be amazed by the love within yourself that you never realized that you were capable of. You will hurt someone beyond repair. You will hurt another someone and only repair the damage after long months have passed. You will do something you think to be small that actually forever changes someone’s life for the better. You may have to kill someone. You will probably save someone’s life.

And the hardest thing is that no person can truly say they are ready for any of these things. You can’t be ready for joy. You can’t be ready for grief. You can rarely see them coming.  You can only take them as they come to you and accept them for what they are.

You are human. Look at those humans who have gone before you, and all the things they have faced. You will never escape from facing the same. You will often repeat their mistakes. You will often taste the same joy that they did.

What a beautiful thing it is to be a human, unafraid of the storm clouds, who drops the umbrella in a puddle and strolls through the rain, letting go of the weatherproof.

Photo credit: “Long Way Through the Rain” by gato-gato-gato

long way through the rain

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