Life isn't about how to survive the storm…

… but how to dance in the rain.

I walked around this lunch time precisely to find some nice cards in the local Papyrus across Bryant Park on 42nd street.  I picked up this very simple card by Niquead which had such a profound message I actually did a double take.

How very apt at a time I am trying to survive the storm, and forgetting about dancing in the rain.

The thought actually made me smile, and there aren’t that many thoughts that make me smile these days.  Have you ever had those moments when you look up at the sky and all you see is grey, and no matter how you try to shake it, you feel a sense of gloom around you?  I walked across Bryant Park today for a change of scenery instead of staring at the pavement as I walked to the card store, and it felt like everything was just staid and gray.  The bare branches of the trees lining the inner perimeter of the park seemed to be tired and weak and folded in surrender.

There were small puddles of water that framed reflections of the trees above and the buildings around.  All in black and white.  The chairs and tables were empty probably because rain was threatening in the horizon.  It wasn’t quite the park that burst into life during the lunchbreak.

I walked slowly and deliberately, trying to carry my heart across the wallk.  I could hear it beating loudly in my head — the usual songs I listened to were silent.  I couldn’t bear to listen to them today.   Too many things associated with each one.  So I listened to the hustle and bustle of the vehicles criss crossing through 42nd street instead.

I got an answer to an e-mail which left much to be desired about being nice.  While on its face it seemed cordial enough, the words were veiled with a sarcasm that seemed to show the writer had bared her fangs.  I was just genuinely worried about a friend but parts of the response I got sort of threw me back.  Then again, I guess I asked for it when I sent my message first.  What was it that our moms used to say to “make nice”?

And would it hurt so much to answer the phone?  You never know if the person calling is ready to jump in front of a speeding bus or jump out the top floor of some skyscraper.  You’ll never know if hearing that voice of the one calling on the other line might actually be just what you need to take your pains and cares away —  the voice of reason you need to hear to help you through your struggle.  Each unanswered call was like a hammer down the heart, but each attempt was a ray of hope.  And you cannot help but cling to hope in the midst of the doom and gloom of the grey skies.

You cling to promises made.  You hang on to what you feel.  Closing your eyes in prayer, you whisper “Please..”.  Somewhere, it will be heard.  Maybe not now, but hopefully soon.

Why can’t we learn how to dance in the rain?

It might actually make our lives more tolerable  — our sins from the past easier to live with.  If we learn to let go and move forward with a sense of renewed purpose, those we had wronged or taken happiness away from might actually look down upon us from the heavens and say it’s alright to find our own bliss wherever that may be.  The rain might actually remind us that it has washed away the past so we can move along and get on with our lives.   And maybe we won’t make the mistake of fearing that we would commit the same wrongs with the new people in our lives again.  Then we can dance in the rain.

I have my own dreams about the rain — dreams that would make me smile when I think of them.  I like the pitter-patter of the water on the window pane as I watch from the inside, all warm and cozy with a blanket on my lap.  I like watching rain pound the leaves as it falls to quench the summer thirst of flora and fauna back home in Manila.

But to dance in the rain would be divine.  It would be liberating.  It would be just the little girl in me performing for an audience of none.

And even if I don’t feel like dancing these days, I dream of days when I would think of dancing in the rain again.  Maybe when my heart can smile again, instead of fighting off the loud thumping pulling at it from all directions.  I need to find that sense of calm so that I can bring the same to those whose hearts I hold in mine like my little one.

We often focus on the storm we are struggling to survive but survival is part of human nature.  It’s the lightness of feet that finds us — that dancing feeling once the storm has settled — that point where after we pick up the pieces again we look at what we have and say a genuine thank you  that we have something left and we make something out of it all.  That’s the “dancing in the rain” bit that sets us apart when the sun shines anew.

The sun has set over Manhattan and I’m getting ready to go home.  There’s a congestion in my chest — allergies maybe.  The thumping in my head is still there.  I feel defeated by my ailments today, but I am trying to cling to thoughts of dancing in the rain again.  I whisper my plaintive cries to the heavens and hope it lands up in the mountains where the Gods are — and may they pay heed.  I close my eyes and whisper again “Please…”

Up at 3AM

There are times when no matter how late I turn in, sleep seems to be elusive, catching me only for a minute and then I’m up again.  It’s one of those nights.  So I’m wondering if I should have bugged Fe again yesterday (she’s somewhere in the South for over a week now) like I did the other evening.  We laughed and we cried together as we remembered our Dads.  The tears felt good and helped to clear the air passages literally and figuratively.  I just wanted to give the tear ducts a rest tonight, though.  I knew it would come down to that again if I dialed her number.  (I might yet give in later, since it’s just mid-afternoon there right now.)

I’ve been walking around with a pain radiating from my chest to my back for two days now.  (Another nagging indicator I do need to exercise.  Unheeded.)  Yesterday, I wandered down to 39th street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue in search of knitting needles — and while I found them and got some nice pink yarn to work with, my friend Lisa lectured me when I realized I had gotten the wrong length of circular knitting needles.  (Part of the learning process.  How was I supposed to know that the length of the tube connecting the two needles mattered if I was going to try and knit a cap?)  So now I have a size 9 and size 15 circular knitting needle 29″ in length that’s going to join my knitting needle collection.

The yarns I saw were nothing like those found in real knitting stores but it helps to know the suppliers are just blocks away from work.  I trudged back to the office feeling this knot in my chest telling me I wasn’t hungry.  Or so I thought.  An hour later (after hanging the coat and getting warm and cozy again up in my little corner in Midtown Manhattan), my stomach started grumbling.  At 10 minutes before the cafeteria closed, I was going to need extreme luck to find anything close to edible, so again — and I NEVER do this on a regular day — I put on the fuschia pink puff jacket and walked to Kwik Meals, my favorite street vendor of chicken on pita, around 4 blocks uptown.  It was cold but hunger carried me out the building a second time.

Lunch was done by 3pm.

I stared at my monitor (which I had been doing most of the morning), checked e-mails I was expecting which, by the way, didn’t come — then I stared at the monitor again.

Grief has  a funny way of taking hold of us.  Fe has been telling me that the emotional upheaval happening to a mutual friend of ours is probably deeply rooted in his personal grief over the loss of his daughter.  Trust Fe to make the connection.  I know I didn’t.  I just sank into the pillows in bed, remembered Dad and the tears just came again.  Sometimes grief has a way of making us feel alone in our sorrow.  Other times, it makes us displace the sorrow, Fe said.  I don’t know which is which.

I like talking to Fe when I feel I am at my lowest because she shares the same pain I feel, having lost our fathers months apart.  And even if she didn’t and I did, no one knows me better than she does.

I was cursing through my tears and laughing through it — much like Sisa probably was doing as she cried out for Crispin and Basilio, Fe and I kidded each other.  The laughter helped stop the tears eventually.  But the knot in my chest remains.

So I walked with that knot in my chest through most of today.  I slept with it earlier than usual and woke up with it just minutes back.  I wish I could just let it go.  Or since it doesn’t want to let me go, I wish I could just ignore it.  But like I told Fe, I was surprised to find out I could actually live with it.  Now I know how a hunchback feels.  It’s just that my hump is invisible and it’s there in the cavity of my chest, crowding my heart.  Maybe that’s why I hear my heart beaingt a little stronger and faster today — or maybe I’m just too fat. LOL

I tried to leave the office earlier but ended up going the usual time anyway, waiting for my driver to pick up the materials for the boss.  It was a blessing that the boss was out yesterday when the knot was just ever present, or else I wouldn’t have had the luxury of just slumping down onto one of the cozy sofa chairs in his office, staring at the Chrysler Building standing majestically in front of me.  I sat at my desk for period of time just staring at the wall behind me, or the piles of paper I need to attack and sort to file.  They can wait until tomorrow.  (Oh, that’s today.)

I hear Fe telling me to just leave it be.  People need time and space.  I guess, that’s right for me, too.  We all need our time to grieve.  Some people deal with it better than others.  I don’t know if I fall under the category of “better” or “others”, though.  I just know I woke up just before 3am and from the looks of it, I’m not hitting the sack again anytime soon.

Not good.  But at least that might mean I will be able to start my day real early and get to the office way before the 9am video conference interview the boss is doing with someone in Europe.  And hopefully, the craziness of the day will help me go through it, lump in my chest or not.  I might yet be able to will it away.

That thought gave me pause.  (A lot of thoughts give me pause these days.)

“Will it away.”  I have always thought of “willing people away” and just trying to “shoo” them off my mind and consciousness — and now I wonder how many have tried to will me away..  Might be quite a list.  It’s just something we never think about.  It’s like “unfriending” someone, or “blocking” someone from our contact list.  It CAN be done.  And painful as it may be to think someone would will you away, perhaps that’s how it is.  I have come to discover through the years that there are people who seem to be scared by me — although that is still something I can’t quite get a grip on.  What is heartening is that some friends see me as a “just another little girl at heart.”  Well, this little girl is crying like a baby and wandering aimlessly… and is wide awake and rambling away at 4am.. I’m trying to decide if I’ll brew some coffee for a change, make some hot chocolate or just go with the usual double shot of espresso.

I didn’t get any chocolates yesterday but I bet those heart shaped chocolate boxes are now on sale.  Hmmmmm… (Siblings in Manila getting excited over that.. )

Another day in paradise…