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Rain Falling Through Sunlight: Sunday musings…New Year’s Day 2023

“What do you call a heart that is simultaneously full and breaking? Maybe there’s no word for it, but for some reason, it makes me think of rain falling through sunlight.” –Blake Crouch “Upgrade”

2022 seemed like a very hard year for us. But was it, really?

As I retired for the year last evening I took one last look at the inland ocean, the shores upon which my darling wife Beth and I live. The seawall and pier were surrounded by what can only be described as icebergs stretching as far north as my floodlights allowed me to see. My little oasis was choked off from the rest of Lake Erie by massive chunks of ice tattooed with the detritus of the lake’s year past. My view was dark despite the lights above the pier.

A rather apt metaphor for 2022, eh?

There’s been a rather pervasive gloom in the air of late. Doom and gloom fill our comms, whether they be traditional (newspapers, network news) or the radical disrupted streams of social media. It is well known that we are, as a species, hardwired to overweight and therefore over react to the negative. Tragedy writ small lands a direct hit on our psyche. Think local child lost on a frozen lake. The great Robin Dunbar the evolutionary psychologist believes that humans as presently evolved can maintain a personal connection with no more than 150 discreet individuals at any given time. Tiny (in number) tragedies lend themselves to familiarity when we transpose one of our 150 onto tragedy of limited scale.

The doom and gloom of our larger collective psyche can be laid at the feet of tragedies that are simply too large for us to find a way to relate to them in any meaningful manner. The slaughter of thousands of Uyghurs in China or the displacement of, what, 5 million Ukrainians are of a scope that is not calculable. We respond, if we can at all, by being engulfed in the gloom. We cannot process calamity writ so large. It blinds us to the sunlight, and we see only the rain.

And yet the reality is that our world is remarkably better in almost all ways today than it was any number of yesterdays. (One notable exception that should be pointed out is a stark increase in deaths of young Americans to drug overdoses, whether purposeful or accidental.) For the most part the world has continued its inexorable march toward better lives for nearly all of its citizens. There are actually FEWER wars today than there were 5 years ago, Ukraine notwithstanding, and along with that fewer deaths by warfare. Fewer revolutions and therefore more stable governments in more parts of the world. Indeed, the one very notable revolution in waiting is one much of the world would welcome: Iran.

Again, COVID notwithstanding, we continue to march toward better treatments for more diseases. There is much less hunger in more of the world than just 5 years ago, and this continues to be the trend. A greater percentage of humans live in a world that is warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Indeed, as we consider how our climate may be changing we must take care to remember that it is cold that kills; five times as many people died this year from exposure to cold than those who died from the heat. Access to the internet, while not universal, continues to grow at a pace that is not quite exponential, but feels that way. Do newcomers to the web have experiences similar to those we all had in the days before social media? One wonders. Still, the world of the connected grows.

In retrospect, was my year, our year, really as hard as it seemed?

Beth had a cancer scare. The surgery was a success; no cancer remains. She had an injury and lost her voice for a couple of months; she got better and her sweet voice, the voice that told me she loved me 40 years ago sings to me of love, still. My other hip, the “good one” crashed and burned. Surgery cured the pain of a hip denuded of cartilage. I was injured as a result of the surgery, and the pain I’d had prior to surgery was simply “transplanted” to a different part of my leg. I learned what it means to have chronic, unremitting pain, but I have nearly recovered. Beth and I are just sitting down after a long walk with our dogs and I am only mildly sore. It seems as if this, too, will be cured.

These things were hard. There were other hard things happening in our closest circles, in our families. Things that ended. Others clearly on the glide path to the end. And yet, each of them was actually surrounded by beginnings. Growth outpaced decline. There was darkness and there was gray, and for however much we as a creature may be hardwired to see only the rain, it was surrounded on all sides, up and down and in front and behind, it was surrounded by light. By good and easy. It’s all there, like a perpetual dawn breaking through the dark, sunlight free of rain, until it is once again, and still, a glorious noon with the sun on high.

What was hard was nothing more than a bit of rain falling through the sunshine.

This morning I awakened to a bright and shining new year. I awakened refreshed, as I should be, having lived another year in a life which is, has been, filled with so much more light than dark. So much less that is hard than that which is not. Surrounded by a larger world that continues to be lighter with each passing year. A light that we can see if we choose to. If we choose to look just the tiniest bit to the side of the doom and the gloom, for the light is there, and it is so very much more.

Like the icebergs that surrounded us this past week. In the light of day they were no less there, no smaller for the light. And yet in the light one could see that beyond them lay the magnificence of the lake. So much more lake than the ice that had been soiled by its travels. I went to bed last night surrounded by icebergs that obscured my view, like those things that had been hard, had made last year seem like such a hard year. I awakened and gazed upon a magnificent inland ocean. The icebergs? Well, they’d melted of course. Nothing but ice cubes floating harmlessly by as I began another day in a world with but a bit of rain falling through the sunlight.

I have just one resolution this year: there will be sunlight and there will be rain; I will look for the sun each time it rains. I will believe that each storm will pass. I will choose to live in the sunlight.

I wish for you and yours a Happy, sunny New year. I’ll see you next week…

2 Responses to “Rain Falling Through Sunlight: Sunday musings…New Year’s Day 2023”

  1. January 6th, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    Nancy Leach says:

    Beautiful piece as always, Darrell.

    I didn’t know about Beth’s cancer scare – am relieved she is okay – and am sending you both loving wishes for continued blessings in the year to come.

    From the SFO airport after days of high winds, rain, power outage and redwood tree limbs falling everywhere:) xoxox

  2. January 7th, 2023 at 11:31 am

    drwhite says:

    Thanks so much Nancy!

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