“Please let it rain,” I whispered to myself as I walked to my car.
Knowing I was heading home to run–and having passed the better part of a week doing so in thick humidity–I welcomed the possibility of moisture from the heavens. Just the night before, I headed out after 9 PM and the temperature was still pushing 90°. The two days before that, the heat index had reached triple digits.
Noticing dark clouds in the southwestern sky, I humbly requested a break from the blast furnace.
You see, a few miles to myself has tremendous cleansing power. I imagine every runner would tell you the same, whether they head out in a group or alone. Something about the rhythmic motion calms the psychic seas and soothes physical tension.
Further, I find it difficult to believe there is someone out there without a concept of perfect conditions for their meditative mile. The personal nature of this exercise–a primitive dance with Mother Earth herself–invites each individual to find their own means to achieve the endorphin-laced nirvana known as “runner’s high”.
For me, a light rain and 70° temperatures is ideal.
The peaceful tympany of raindrops tapping gently against my skin and my surroundings amplifies the catharsis I seek when I leave the house. Thus, I felt a small measure of joy when I noticed the first spots on the pavement around three-quarters of a mile. Within a few dozen yards, a steady rain had set in.
I grinned at my answered prayer.
Soaked to the skin as I neared a mile and a half, I smiled and thought “I only meant a little,” and then pressed on to complete my four-plus mile course. A short time later, I passed a Methodist church on the familiar route to my favorite park with its sign flashing
Every good and perfect gift comes from above… James 1:17, NIV
I chuckled at this reply and contemplated how those words resonated beyond the pavement I was pounding and into my life as a whole. Strangely, I hearkened back to similar ideas from dissimilar works.
A snippet from Zen and the Art of Happiness reminded me that “every event that befalls you is absolutely the best possible thing that could occur–that there is no other event imaginable that could benefit you to any greater degree.” Then, my mind rolled delicately into the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, the infamous line that “What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
The unexpected downpour could be framed as an inconvenience or an opportunity.
A day is infinitely simpler when you admit it could be better, then set about to make the most of it anyway. So, I had a chance to test my fitness in air 20° cooler than normal, lacking oppressive sunshine overhead. My stride remained fast longer and, since my core body temperature had not been elevated by the heat, I was able to do so with relative respiratory ease.
How often do we take advantage of surprises?
I had asked for rain.
I got more than I bargained for.
It didn’t “kill me” and I derived a greater “benefit” from the “gift”.
A good lesson for how we all might approach the present.