This evening at work, almost at once, everyone started texting, instant messaging and calling me on two different phones. I thought it must be the end of the world for sure and either we finally pushed the button to set off a full fledged nuclear attack or Jesus was descending from the clouds.
It was the same message coming through loud and clear…Get out of the building and go home!
Evidently there was a huge storm coming with all kinds of terrible weather forecasts and warnings. Apparently I work so hard, it requires others to tell me that it is going to storm because I’m so oblivious to the outside world.
Anyway, I shut down my computer, locked down the place just in case it would still be there in the morning and headed out the door. Of course, I have to park very far away from my office. No really, I have to park nearly in California and I live in Virginia. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but it really is a long walk.
By the time I was about a third of the way to my car, the deluge of water started. At first, my umbrella was doing pretty good, but then the wind got it. I have no idea where the wind even came from, but it started whipping pretty hard.
At this point I was half way to my car without the aid of an umbrella. I was wearing a coat with a hood, so I turned back to the wind and reached up to yank the hood over my head.
I knew that by now the backpack strapped to my back was probably getting soaked. My shoes and slacks were as wet as if I had just waded through the swimming pool and I was having a heck of a time keeping my hood in place because the wind wanted to whip it down.
Just in case you’ve forgotten or don’t know, I’m a bit…hmmmm…neat and orderly without a hair out of place and my makeup on every time I step foot outside of my house. I iron my clothes each morning and my slacks have a stiff, starched pleat. Now you get the picture?!
I don’t know if it was the roaring wind in my ears, the rain beating down on my face and getting in my eyes or my PTSD, but I got a little scared and disoriented. I couldn’t find my car and I couldn’t remember where I had parked.
I felt like crying and then something in my head – a voice said, “Be calm. It is just rain,” and so I stood still and closed my eyes in the pouring rain with my hood barely covering my head, my backpack on my back and my shoes underwater in the flooded parking lot. The weather was out of my control and so I needed to shift my attention to taking care of just what I had the power to control and change.
My car was just a few rows over and after my brief moment of gathering my wits, I was able to quickly find it and get inside where it was safe and dry.
Looking in the rear view mirror, I laughed at my reflection. My hair was plastered to my head, mascara ran down my cheeks and water dripped off my nose and chin. Tiny rivers of water flowed from my shoes and a splash of water sprayed when I patted my water logged slacks.
I don’t ever remember being that soaked in “good” clothes. The smell of my rain soaked clothes reminded me of something. What was it? It was right on the tip of my tongue. Then I remembered being a bathing suit clad, fair skinned little girl running through the sprinkler in our front yard. My sister, Audrey, with her chubby little legs and ruffled bootie bathing suit kept trying to sit on the sprinkler. The cold water would shoot out of the tiny holes and spray her face. She would suck in her breath, run away laughing, then turn around to come back and do it again. My very young, golden brown tanned mother stood laughing and smiling at us both. That look in her eyes, I realize now, was unmasked love of a mother for her children.
How did that much time pass already?
Life is going to happen every day. We often have the illusion of control and power over everything around us, however, it simply isn’t true. I can control me and you can control you. We can’t control the weather, sky, the billions of people in China, the little fish in the sea, our friends, parents, children or spouse.
Our experiences will include the happy, exciting, fun, good, indifferent, sad, unpleasant, devastating, traumatizing and soul wrenching times. Through it all, we have to take a moment to relinquish control and shift our attitude.
It is not easy or even pleasant, but it is entirely necessary to our progression and sanity to take time for introspective meditation and positive self-talk.
Today my control was washed away in a parking lot where I was soaked to the skin with fresh rain, and I sat in a cold car remembering the innocent time of youth, love for my little sister and the joy of being my mother’s child.