Today, I huddled under the bus stop shelter as torrents of rain poured down outside.
Vermont summer storms.
A particularly long, sharp bolt of lightning flashed on the horizon.
Water splashed on my toes.
A little girl stood close to her mother beside me, sobbing. She was scared of the storm. Each crack of thunder louder than the last; I can’t remember the last time I heard thunder like that, reverberating in my chest, echoing in the pit of my stomach.
My dog is afraid of thunderstorms. She cowers in a tiny nook under a bathroom cabinet whenever she hears rumbling (she is a big dog, so this is quite impressive). The little girl next to me, too, appeared terrified of the wet and the noise and the turmoil.
I love these storms. I prefer not to be stuck in them with my yoga mat and my laptop, like today, but that is another story.
A clap of thunder is like a jolt to my system; it energizes me. My body responds to lightning.
I am hardwired, like most of us, to doggedly avoid a downpour, but when I accept the inevitability of being soaked, I relish the rivulets of rain on my skin.
I rarely write about love. The occasional poem or journal entry aside, I stick to more earthly things: travel, food, wellness. Wary of cliché and cautious of imitation, I leave love to the poets. But the thunderstorm today inspired me; it was the perfect metaphor, I thought.
Love is like a thunderstorm. The little girl is the lover afraid of its power. The rain is the torrent of emotion. The thunder is the shock of it, and the lightning is the spark of joy.
No, that should go at the end. Let’s start differently.
Love is like a thunderstorm.
You can try to stay dry, and you can be miserable, or you can accept the downpour with gratitude and know the unmatched pleasure of becoming liquid. When it hits, you can curl up and hide under the bathroom cabinet, or you can run outside, tilt your head back and open your arms, heart and mouth to catch the rain.
When those radiant streaks of lightning flash on the horizon, you can slip back to safety inside. Or, you can swallow the fear of too much love, of too much feeling, and you can let them illuminate you.
In the 10-second dash from the shelter to the bus, the rain soaked me through. Hunching my shoulders and frowning wouldn’t change that. Neither would hesitating at the edge of the safe and the dry.
There is a turning point when you are caught in a storm—the point where you realize you are f***ed. You will not stay dry. Resistance is futile. Your jeans will cling to your legs with an extra pound of water weight, and your sodden hair will stick to your face and neck.
Once you commit to it, though—when you hit that turning point and realize you should probably just accept being wet— nothing is more electric than standing under a storm. Meeting the rain with assurance, shoulders thrust back, head up, changes everything.
Love is a little bit like that.
I have never been afraid of thunderstorms, but I have hesitated to welcome love into my life. I know that there is the same turning point, the same shift from fear and resistance to acceptance and electric joy. There is a point in being caught in a storm in which you are so wet that the rain feels like it is a part of you. You are liquid. You are as fluid as the rain.
Love is a little bit like that.
We are hardwired to avoid discomfort. But, if we accept and embrace them, the things that make us uncomfortable—like rain, like love—can also bring us unsurpassed pleasure. You can always run inside to the safe and the dry. Or, you can relish the rivulets of rain on your heart and allow yourself to be liquid as love soaks your jeans and drips from your hair.
Love is like a thunderstorm. The little girl at the bus stop is the lover who is afraid of it. You are her opposite: the lover who opens arms, heart and mouth to the storm, and melts into it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran