Rainy Day Revelations
Dust floated about in the cheery morning sun that streamed through the hostel room’s lone window. I pulled back the curtains to my bed, throwing on a shirt and shorts before quietly exiting in an effort not to wake the 20 other still-snoozing girls.
With the new Mumford and Sons album streaming through my ears (and still desperately wishing everyone was as passionate about this album as I am), I meandered through tree-shaded London streets, alone with my wandering thoughts in a city of seven million.
I returned to sit beneath a tree – my tree – on Primrose Hill, the city unchanged before me as the spring breeze carried shadows across the blooming city.
One year before, I had sat beneath this very same tree, the same skyline set within my eye line, wearily contemplating my “what’s next” after I returned home to the prospects of life post-graduation. Yet here I was - an entire year between that moment and this one - just as in the dark about what I’m doing with my life as I was then.
Admittedly, I’m not entirely satisfied with the lack of progress in my career; it’s been six months since I graduated, and I have no full-time job to show for the past three and a half years spent writing papers, taking tests and completing internships. Two part-time jobs and a shaky dream to write isn’t exactly what I imagined my “what’s next” to consist of.
Returning to London for two weeks, I half-expected the British rain to flood me with some massive revelation about my life’s purpose (because that's how these things work, right?). However, I was coming up short; London’s grey skies had yet to reveal my life’s path.
Two days before we were set to return to America, my friend and I took a train through the village-dotted English countryside to the coastal town of Dover, our plan to walk the aptly named White Cliffs of Dover. Upon our arrival, thick clouds had crowded in, pushed along by heavy wind gusts. We barely made it into a quiet café in the town’s square just as the rain began beating down, threatening to thwart our cliff-walking plans.
The downpour eventually let up to a light, yet irritatingly consistent rain, so we decided we might as well have a go at those cliffs. The lady at the visitor center sent us on our way into the elements with directions and an encouraging “you fools!”
It rained the whole way to our lighthouse destination two miles down a muddy cliff-side meadow trail. A thick fog hung over the sea, skewing our view to only a couple of miles. Our trek was frequently halted in order to wipe away the heavy mud caked on our shoes. “You fools” we were, indeed.
In typical British fashion, the skies cleared, the sun shone and we were finally treated to a brilliant scene: green fields, white cliffs, blue water and the hazy outline of the coast of France across the English Channel.
And again in typical British fashion, less than an hour later, the skies darkened and the rain fell. As we walked along the coast’s promenade back toward the town, my thoughts were centered on that fleeting life purpose I had hoped to catch even the slightest glimpse of in England.
Perhaps there won’t be any revelations about my future, I resigned. Perhaps I’m simply meant to enjoy the moment I’m in.
And so I did. I felt those cold raindrops splash against my skin, shivered as the breeze crept through my soaked jacket, watched the grey sea roll gently against the rocks below, listened to the low hum of the ferries exiting the port en route to Calais, trying to capture that moment so completely in my mind in all of its wet, miserable delight.
And exactly like a cliché storybook ending, I glanced back to see a rainbow arched in its glorious completeness before me, one end in the harbor, the other landing neatly by the port, the white cliffs poised stoically behind the vivid colors.
In that bright surprise of the moment, I received my revelation after all:
Life isn’t about focusing solely on my “what’s next,” it’s about living fully in my “what’s now.”
I may not have my what's next figured out, but my what's now is enough for me.