We’ve all seen it. When an unexpected (or even an expected) rain shows up in the middle of an active day, people respond in comical ways to the prospect of being negatively impacted by getting wet. It’s an interesting thing to observe, not because of the face value cause-effect, but because of all the little things that lie beneath the surface. It can be stress inducing. But it doesn’t have to be.
Basically, it seems we can correlate our tolerance for getting wet in the rain with our determination or ambition to accomplish things regardless of circumstances. This correlation is not static by any means. There are days when we are more willing than others to endure the discomfort and changes to our physical appearance that result from getting wet. I’m just saying, our reaction to rain reflects so many things going on inside us.
I remember a time when my youngest was a preschooler and we had to go to Target on a rainy day. (This may have been more of a stormy day than just a rainy day.) I had one umbrella and hands full — handbag, shopping bags, and my little boy who held my hand as we ran to and from the store. When it was said and done, his pants and shoes were soaked. “How on earth did you get so wet?” I asked, implying that he should have been drier since we were both under the umbrella. “The rain has a little helper, Mom,” he said, “and its name is wind.”
Indeed, it does.
Recently at work, I was having a conversation about our human nature in reaction to doing difficult or uncomfortable things, particularly doing those things over a sustained period of time. Our purpose was to figure out ways to coach our team through an intense growth spurt. In that conversation, I used the image of a sudden downburst of rain to describe our general resistance to that sort of discomfort and change in circumstances. Most of us do not want to get wet. And we avoid it for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the way it changes our appearance – picture the “drowned rat” we refer to so often. We are far more willing to endure the inconveniences and discomfort of an absolute soaking when we have significant incentives that override the negative feelings about getting wet.
Today, my son and I were downtown having lunch together when the bottom fell out of the sky. The rain wasn’t just heavy, it was torrential. We had no particular reason to hurry and nowhere in particular to go afterward, so we weren’t stressed. And we didn’t have umbrellas. As we left the restaurant to head over to a nearby coffee shop, we passed several folks huddled in the foyer of the restaurant, waiting for the rain to pass. And, on the street, there were various mixtures of folks with umbrellas, makeshift umbrellas, and nothing (like us) to limit our getting wet. While in the coffee shop, it occurred to me that getting wet in the rain is a purely physical experience – a sign of life, if you will – with mental and emotional implications. In other words, the way we perceive getting wet unexpectedly in the rain drives our experience of it entirely. And we can change our perception of things.