These are, unfailingly, Pearl’s words every single time we step outside (unless, of course, it is raining). They are so spontaneous and effortless. Each time, she seems truly surprised and pleased by her observation. “No raining! Sun!”
Early-bird that she is, Pearl and I were out walking around the block this morning around 6:00. We passed by each house and said out loud the names of the people inside. We listened to a cardinal announcing a new day from a high branch. We heard chickadees and other birds I can’t name but whose chorus is like everything pure and good in this world. It is truly spring here, finally really spring – and amazingly easy to forget that just a month ago we thought it might never come. Amazing to think after all that waiting, I could overlook it, miss it entirely.
This morning, in that crisp cool, I felt as if a heavy rain had swept through, washing the world clean overnight. It doesn’t much matter if you’ve read my last few posts; needless to say, my own storm clouds have been reaching critical mass this past week. Some shifting roles and realities threatened to catapult me in the direction of boring, old habits (trying to be all things to all people at my own expense, etc.).
What takes a toll? Not being stressed per se. No, what does me in is when I resist being stressed. When I feel like I “should” feel some other way, when I try to talk myself out of how I really feel, override it. When I judge myself for feeling what I’m feeling. When I power through, put my head down, keep it in.
Last night, Greg said that it is my incapability at keeping things in that has saved us time and again. I knew just what he meant. But lately, just in the past week or so, I feel like I’ve drifted away from this practice of simply noticing. Today, it feels good to come back around.
“No raining” = no effort. This, my little Pearlie girl teaches me. When she says these words, she’s not trying to look on the bright side. In fact, she’s not trying to do anything. She’s simply noticing, paying attention, and telling it like it is. And it is, in fact, not raining.
My middle sister and I sometimes joke about a woman we know who is incredibly, genuinely positive ALL THE TIME. Ask her about anything, talk to her about anything, and at some point you will likely hear her say, “Wonderful, honey!”
Being around her is such a contrast to being around most people, at once nice and slightly jarring. The saving grace of her endless, boundless optimism – and what makes it attractive – is that it is completely and totally authentic.
For she is not trying to be positive. She is not repeating affirmations and mantras, not adhering to some secret program or magic prescription for happiness and joy. Nor is she ignorant of life’s challenges, of pain, of struggle and suffering. Being positive is not the opposite of being “real.” I imagine that she simply gets that there is room for all of it to co-exist: the good, the bad, the sublime, the ugly, the sheer is-ness of life itself, ever-changing.
Trying to be positive goes directly against my deep value of being real, of telling it like it is. There’s some tension there, to be sure; intellectually, it’s hard for me to understand how talking about things being hard, really going into my hard places (resentment, depression, stress… you name it) is going to “help” me.
But what happens when I’m honest is always an affirmation in itself. The clouds finally break open and the rains come down hard, and I sit on the couch and tell Greg everything I’ve been holding close, the stuff that causes me to stop breathing, to ignore myself, to not value my own actual feelings. That is when something magical does happen, except that it’s not magic at all. I feel seen and heard and validated and acknowledged. And suddenly, I can let go a little, or a lot. And things are easier again, lighter.
“Mama! No raining! Sun.”
It may or may not be “Wonderful, honey!” But if I could use a mantra today, this is a keeper. These words of hers remind me to look out, look up, look around – and simply see what is, without judgment or reaction.
And what a relief that is, like the rain, and the no rain, and the sun.