“If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.”
- Pablo Neruda
When I was young, I loathed chatter about the weather. The familiar go-to small talk that adults leaned on to side-step deeper matters struck me as a grave sin against the limited, mortal moments we each had. Instead of baring their hearts or asking about another's, they hid behind the first, most obvious of superficial topics. Instead of embarking on inquiry and wonder, they stated what we all knew already. It's raining out. Or what we all could readily learn by checking the forecast. It's going to rain later. I felt that to save my very soul, I must not grow to become one of the shut-down adults who merely spoke of rain when it rained, or sun when it shined, or cold when the wind blew bitter gusts in promise of winter. Weather, like daily gastro-intestinal (dis)comfort, assumptions about the gender of a person's love, and questions like What do you do? was a social agreement I hoped to never contract.
I have violated most of my youthful edicts. Everything I once knew of myself, I have come to reknow as its opposite. Nearly every rule I have laid, I have violated, some with regret, many with ears pulled back like my cat as she follows a flight of doves, quite a few with wide-armed embrace like the dissolution of my first marriage, which opened me to (from where I sit) the greatest love story of all time.
But there came a time when my view of the sky shifted. Though some do call in clouds to skirt their own discomfort in conversation, instead of thinking of it as a nonsense conversation that need not be had, I now recognize weather as perhaps the most unifying of all human experiences, the most satisfactory understanding that we are here together on this spot on this planet under these clouds. I ask Darby about it in the morning, because I know that he reads the reports and watches the forecast for statistical chances of Los Angeles rain. I write about it all the time. In my songs, my stories, my journal.
When I peel myself away from my merry-go-round thoughts, the ones that circle the same topics over and over, the ones that measure my speed and set up goals, as if they weren't just spinning around the same pole (some attractive go-go dancer these thoughts are); when I let myself enter the world, the one outside my skin, feel it, listen; when I search the horizon and my memory of paints to find the name of the hue that might capture the slanted sun or folding dark; when I let my imagination find shapes in the clouds; when I pinpoint the word to describe the scent of the air, ah, yes, briny; when I seek out stars and stand to watch if one might, instead, be the space station; I find myself some many minutes later emerging from my reverie with the realization that the weather and the world has transported me beyond movement, into a deeper experience of being human.
The weather takes me to stillness, to presence. Weather, and the senses we employ to observe it, brings me to my senses, in more ways than one, and triggers truth. A pound of truth is worth more than its weight in gold. The heart weighs it: Is it pyrite or the true north truth? Truth's weight compounds as I learn to trust my heart's guidance.
I stay still under the weather till I know something about this living thing. Do our souls continue on after our bodies find their final stillness, as the Rabbi said at my Auntie Dish's funeral nearly three weeks ago in a chilled chapel in New York on a day when the sky made the grave site where my great-grandfather, Papa, and my great-grandmother, Mama, welcomed to their muddy bed their daughter, and my forehead glistened wet as my cheeks? Do we carry this experience of connection with the world into the next phase, beyond? Did my great love story with Darby begin eons ago, before we met on this plane on July 4 afternoon in 2009 in Los Angeles? Will it continue when our organic bodies nourish the soil for others?
When I come back to myself, I am more human, more alive. I might look across the way and see someone with chin tilted to the sky. I don't know if she is under the weather, but I know the weather under which she stands. It is immortal as Zeus, and she and I and you are as blessedly mortal as doves.
Thank for you sharing this planet with me, and for being here.