It’s rainy season now in South Florida where I’m spending time with my parents and friends. Apparently the rains came a few weeks early this year, and they won’t end any time soon–the season technically lasts for half the year. This is the most intense period: from now through July, it won’t rain all day, but it will probably rain every day at some point. Huge downpours and fierce thunderstorms will be the norm. The electricity will flicker and the cable will go out. The sky will go from light to dark and back again, quickly and repeatedly.
When I taught in Florida just a few short years ago, I remember getting so annoyed with the way the kids got sidetracked by the rain. “Guys. Stop staring out the window. Stop jumping and ooh-ing and ahh-ing each time the thunder cracks. There’s a storm every single day. Relax. Now who can show us how to solve 43×17?”
The kids would reluctantly shift their gazes from the glorious show of nature outside back to the multiplication problem on their papers. And having been sufficiently chastised, they’d concentrate, for the most part. They knew when I took them to lunch, they could take advantage of the outdoor hallways and skip through the puddles when I wasn’t looking, or stick their hands under the edge of rain gutters to feel the cool rush of the water, or shriek with laughter as the sideways rain escaped the protective barrier of the overhang and pounded across their feet.
I wish I had let them watch the rain more often. I wish I had stopped being so serious and instead smiled when their faces lit up in wonder as the lightning flashed through the sky. I wished I’d splashed in a few puddles myself. Those moments were precious: they are what I miss most about teaching. And the kids were right to notice the beauty that was all around us.
Just because we’ve seen something a million times doesn’t mean it’s not still majestic. The deep roll of the thunder, the glimpses of sunlight through the dark clouds, the juxtaposition of the green palm trees glistening with rain against the grayness of the skies…why should we stop being amazed?
I could use a little more wonder in my life. I could benefit from putting down my work for a few moments to look outside, gaze up at the sky, and take it all in. I could accomplish more during those periods of concentration if I paused for more moments of being still and reconnecting with a child-like sense of wonder. Could you?