‘Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.’
There is an abundance of open fields in the rolling horse country of East Anglia. The town of Newmarket constitutes ground zero for horse enthusiasts throughout both the kingdom and much of Europe, which gives the little town a certain moneyed charm. I lived in a tiny village about five miles outside of Newmarket and frequently went on walks through these enormous open fields, always with an eye peeled for horse-related land mines strewn hither and yon. It was genuinely lovely and so incredibly British in its own way that during my walks I lacked only a cup of tea, maybe a riding crop, and a waxed moustache to round out the scene (possibly also a horse).
There were always large stands of trees located with apparent randomness in these fields and well away from the boundaries. I used to walk to them, lean myself against a tree, and read or think or simply do neither, because sometimes nothing is exactly what we need. I was still in England during my little dive into depression’s wading pool and amid a particularly dark period, I recall finding myself at one particular wooded outcropping, sitting there, hating life, demanding answers from God and hearing nothing but the wind. There was a storm rolling in at the time. Have you ever been in the Midwest or anywhere involving large swaths of rolling greenery and admired the way a black storm front contrasts with the land that surrounds you? It’s truly impressive, something even the color blind can appreciate, and constitutes my singular envy of people who live in Kansas.
I could see claws of lightning crawl across the thunderheads and hear the accompanying rumble provide evidence that it wasn’t a hallucination. The smart thing to do would’ve been to walk as quickly as possible to some sort of non-lightning friendly shelter, like the pub that was about 20 minutes due east, but my mind wasn’t in the mood for shelter and I was feeling absolutely no inclinations toward self-preservation. Like playing chicken with the God unwilling to provide me immediate feedback, I maintained my seated position against the trunk of that ancient tree and watched what might’ve been my blackened fate roll inevitably closer.
I was playing the odds to a certain extent. The trees in the area had been around long enough to have been witnesses to Cromwell and his minions riding through the countryside setting churches on fire. These trees had clearly survived centuries of storms. I wasn’t comforting myself with that, however. I was really ready to go, almost looking forward to it even. If lightning struck that tree with me under it, my thinking at the time was: No problem. And so the storm arrived and I sat there getting drenched as the wind howled and the thunder boomed.
I suppose it lasted about 20 minutes and at the the end, I was alive and wet and trying to convince myself that both statuses were merely annoying rather than tragic. I remained sitting there long enough to question my stoicism in the face of possibly being electrocuted by nature. The sound of the storm had been impressive. It was chaos unleashed over a very short period of time and had struck me as illustrating outwardly what I was dealing with internally. Eventually, another small system moved in over the course of the next hour and this time, I decided to start the long, soggy walk back to civilization. As a much gentler rain started to fall, I tried to see surviving one storm as motivation for surviving others. Storms come and we ride them out and eventually they pass. And the rain will wash away everything if you let it.
Sir @ May 26, 2011