Hanging in the Balance

It is RAINING on the Central Coast of California, and I have been thinking about water and how it brings both rejuvenation and destruction but not necessarily balance. You know, the lighter side of life.

I am wildly grateful for the rain; the state profoundly needs it and more. I love the sound of it falling on the roof. The hills will finally be green, and yet there are mudslides, flooding, power outages.

A good rainstorm doesn’t restore balance. It seems to me that, though nature always gets back to balance—overpopulated species run out of food and die off, for example—it doesn’t exist in what we would think of as balance all the time. We don’t get the perfect amount of rain every year. We have a drought, we have a storm, there is flooding.

There have always been droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, locusts. There have always been times of plenty and times of not much. And since we were created into this world, it must be the world we’re asked to live in, a world with valleys and peaks, with easier times and harder ones. So the balance, apparently, is up to us.

I tend to approach my life with the assumption that if I could do everything perfectly, I could somehow avoid valleys and peaks, but that’s impossible. The rain will fall or it won’t; the question is how to exist in tune with what’s happening in times of plenty and times of less, whether that’s less rain, less financial stability or less emotional ease.

I’m afraid we’re back to the “a word”—acceptance. To live in balance, we have to live in tune with what’s happening right now, not what we wish were happening. And we have to recognize that what’s happening right now won’t always be happening.

I think this is really hard to do—to be truly present and truly hopeful—but I suspect that if we can get those two, being truly joyful comes along with them.

Talking About the Weather

Somewhere in the middle of planning my upcoming trip to the midwest, I thought, “This is a bad idea. It’s going to be very cold there.” An alarming thought for a former Coloradan to have.

You see, in Colorado, we are tough, and those of us from mountain towns have the luxury at scoffing at the rest of the world when an inch of snow shuts down an entire city. We accept no excuses. Twenty-four inches in forty-eight hours? No problem, we say.
But now I live in coastal California where the majority of people understand that it’s simply follish to live anywhere water freezes without the help of GE. Why voluntarily be cold–or hot for that matter? We’ll stick with 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit thank you very much.
Having recently returned from Colorado to California, I’m fairly convinced it’s a miracle people from vastly different climates can even talk to each other. The world makes itself felt in a cold climate in a way we 70-74 degree-ers do not experience. You have to plan the weather into your life with time to scrape the car window and snowblow the driveway. And then there are days you have to cancel your plans on account of Mother Nature just to stay alive. If you ignore the weather in California, you might get wet.
Back in California, I was sitting at a picnic table that the nearby tree had covered with tiny flowers no bigger than my fingernail. Yes, in January, but stick with me here winter people. The flowers looked like little green cups. I picked one up and turned it over and inside a tiny bug was weaving its way through the white stamen, each tipped with a yellow dot, and stopping to clean its wings.
The world must make itself felt in gigantic and mysterious ways to this bug, such as when a strange force literally turns its world upside down. That upturning can happen to any of us, regardless of the weather–a death, a birth, an unexpected success, the loss of a job. And during and around all these events this world that is the source of endless opportunities for wonder, that offers so many tiny bugs in tiny flowers, continues.