Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s words invite us to find peace even when things aren’t going our way.
Posted in , Apr 11, 2019
I write about positive living twice each week here at Guideposts, always encouraging what I call “authentic positivity”—a commitment to accepting and embracing the full range of human emotions, finding strength and optimism both when life is rosy and when challenges seem to hit like waves crashing ashore.
I recently encountered a quote from the 19th century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that powerfully and succinctly captures the idea of authentic positivity: “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
Early last Sunday afternoon, as a soft and mild spring rain fell outside, my 8-year-old son remarked that the rain was making him feel lonely. At first, I responded with a description of my more positive feeling about the weather—after all, we were cozy in the house with a long stretch of time for reading and other activities ahead of us. It was warm enough outside to leave the windows cracked open so we could breathe clean spring air and hear the pattering raindrops. I felt a deep peace inside, and I told him so.
But even as I spoke, I realized that he was under no obligation to share my feelings—more than that, he was more than entitled to his own. He had wanted to go for a bike ride, maybe meet up with a friend at the park, or do other outdoor things that afternoon. The rain had limited his options, and the word he chose to label his feelings with was “lonely.”
Longfellow’s words reverberated through my thoughts. We both needed to let it rain. So after a moment’s pause in conversation, I tried again, asking my son, “So the rain makes you feel lonely today?” He looked out the window and said, “Yes.” We spoke for a few more minutes, then he was quiet again for just a moment before changing the subject to his excitement about a birthday party he was headed to in a few hours.
I was amazed by the profundity of the moment. It was raining. When I let it rain, in the way my son was experiencing it, his stormy feelings passed and opened up a brighter, more positive emotional space.
And as the afternoon passed and the rain continued, I realized that letting his raindrops fall all the way to earth had not only lightened my son’s outlook, it had made me all the more deeply peaceful about my own view, which I could now truly call authentically positive.