Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cloud Cover

The moon was gone. That was the first sign. Light always travels faster than sound, it is said. Last night, this axiomatic truth was tweaked, slightly. The absence of light travelled faster than sound, and I noticed.

It was 2:00 a.m. I had retired to sleep early, around 9, the previous evening. Trick-or-treating, while fun and exciting (when else does one get to don a masquerade outfit and rob strangers of sucrose-laden treats?) had exhausted me. Otherwise, I should have stayed up until midnight, watching gruesome horror movies or reading Lovecraft or Poe.

But I digress. I could not sleep now, at this late hour. What could I do? Read? Listen to music? But then, as if in answer to my unspoken question -- the rain began to fall. First in small, light patters - then in large, grandiose torrents. I smiled. And so I lay there, just listening, just taking it in, just being happy.

*            *            *

I live in Southern California. Southern California is unlike any other place you might imagine, partly due to the weather. (Yes, there's Hollywood, and excessive traffic, but today is on the weather.)

SoCal is the kind of place where 60 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course) is considered freezing. That is the norm. People don scarves and heavy coats for anything in the 50s, and woe betide the Angeleno caught in 40 degree weather! He'd probably go missing that night, found frozen to death in an ice block two miles away.

I say this partly in jest, but it's true: we are used to our hot weather. It's November now, and last week we had temperatures between 92 and 96 degrees, towards the end of October. Even in December, while the rest of the country (except Hawaii and the Southwest) is freezing in snowy, wintry weather, we go to the beach. We hold barbeques. Clearly we're dealing with completely radical weather.

My personal favorite type of weather is rainy, gloomy weather. Think Washington state, Oregon, that sort of thing. I really do love that weather. Last year, I went up to Monterey and the Bay Area (see my former blog for details), and I LOVED IT. I felt right at home, in 65 degree fog and drizzle. I love the rain. There is something poetic about it. I work best under rain. The rain stimulates me, somehow. Do you know how some people need white noise, or music, or some other auditory stimulus to sleep or to work or whatever? For me, rain is that key. I have written some of my best works under rain.

This probably says more about me and my personality than anything (oh! curse you, Freud!) but there is this inexplicable finesse and intricacy about it. It carries the idea that there is more to it than it appears. This doesn't make much sense right now, but let me elucidate.

*            *            *

Room X-8 is a bungalow, just like the other 10 that comprise the X-buildings at my high school. Inside, rows of desks are lined up, orderly. Motivational posters and mathematical formulas, and a portrait of Isaac Newton cover the walls. Two desks suffice to serve the teacher - one, in the corner with a computer and printer, for his grades, and the other, in the front of the room, with document camera and a legal pad and pen. This is where the mathematical master shows his craft to the young acolytes, eager (mostly) to learn. I had once numbered among them, but time and failure had worn down my mathematical curiosity to barely more than apathy. This was not the Master's fault. Rather, it was mine - things that others grasped easily, I struggled. Was it not true? Many late nights had I spent, working to memorize formulas and apply them - and yet, abject and utter failure.

It was December. Like always, it had been a rather hot, sunny season - but this day was different. The sky was dark and cloudy. As I trumped into X-8, it began - a light droplet to the forehead. I looked up, and saw clouds from afar coming to encompass the school. Others were now looking up, quizzically. Did you feel that? Look at the sky. Oh no, it's going to rain. Damn, I don't have a ride home...These betrayed my classmates' feelings towards the rain, and it showed their personality toward this most basic of natural processes. Trivial human worries, feelings, and qualms surrounded me as I walked into the room. Everyone was mostly disappointed.

I sat down at my seat, next to the window. My math teacher began the lesson, teaching about trigonometric formulas, its relation to calculus - which we would be learning in a few short months, and how important it was and how we needed to commit these to memory. I sighed. Math had - and still isn't - my strong suit. Particularly this section - half angle formulas and the like. I really had not understood this chapter, and I'd asked for help, looked up videos and practice problems, but nothing would stick. I tried listening to the lecture, but nothing stuck. There would be a test next week. I had failed the previous one, miserably. Would I fail this one, too?

The lesson finished. Twenty minutes left in class. As I began to work (and inevitably struggle) on my homework, it came down hard. Large, thick droplets fell from the heavens. I had been told as a small, five-year-old child by my grandmother that rain meant God was sad, and crying. I wondered vaguely at this. If so, He isn't the only one who's crying, I figured, looking at my homework. Why, oh why, couldn't I get it?

Suddenly, it all began to make sense. The formula just requires some tweaking, in this case! You don't need to add take the cosine of pi over 8...The rain was my conductor, I the simple instrument through which the sweet music of mathematical success came through. I don't know how I did it. Either way, I was floored. I looked out at the rain. Its subtle rhythms seemed to contain a hidden secret. This filled me with so much hope and promise for the future, that I could do anything and discover everything. And it does make sense. We are all raindrops, in a way, falling from the cloud of childhood through the atmosphere of Life.

The rain continued late, late into the evening that day. I do believe it was one of my most productive days. 

I passed the test with flying colours the following week, by the way. 

*            *            *

Many do not like the rain. Many despise it, groan about how the 405 or the 60 will be so heavy with traffic, and how outdoor dinner plans will be cancelled, and how inclement weather schedules are going to take place in school, and how miserable it all is, and how all you can do is stay inside.

I laugh at these comments. Because, really, the rain is probably the greatest of all weathers. It brings success, and joy, to me at least. It is true, what they say, about how one man's loss is another's gain. All it requires is a little rain. :)

J'aime la pluie, c'est ma vie et mon âme.

-R. R.

No comments:

Post a Comment