I am awaiting a storm and the sky looks angry as ever. The heavens are layered with a cloak of heavy gray clouds; the air is so humid that the heat is mad and only to grow madder. Meanwhile, all we can do is wait for the rain to come. But I don’t mind. I don’t mid storms the way other people do. I don’t even mind the temporary interruptions of service and I laugh about people’s last minute dash to the grocery store. They run crazy; as if the world is about to end but goddamnit; at least there’ll be toilet paper in the bathroom and butter and milk in the fridge. Otherwise, all there is to do is remain hopeful the storm will pass without too much of a hassle. But I’m not hassled.
I view storms differently. I see them as a means to cleanse the streets of its sorry anxiety and quiet the cities of their loud rambles. I see this as Mother Earth’s idea of quieting the masses—or maybe the word I am looking for is “Time-Out.” I see this as pretty too, at least in its own way; the sky I mean, it’s so dark and ominous, yet, there is something calming; as if the heavens are warning us that something is coming our way. This is the all-seeing and understandable sign to take cover before it’s too late.
In fact, as a child, The Old Man used to tell me about the clouds and the different formations. The Old Man used to tell me that the cloud formations meant something about the upcoming weather; and if you knew what you were looking at, you could predict the weather for the upcoming days. He used to tell me about an old man in the Bronx who’d take to the room of his apartment building. The man would read the clouds. Could you imagine that? He was accurate they say. “You could set your clock to him,” said The Old Man and he’d try and teach me and he’d talk, but of course, I was young so therefore, my mind would drift away and I’d hardly listen.
I can hardly remember the names of the different clouds, the stratus, the alto, the cirrus, the cumulus, and the nimbus. I can’t say that I remember what they mean. I can only say that I understand what’s to come when the sky turns gray, like now, for example. There’s a storm in sight.
I suppose life is this way too. There are signs to look for. There’s visual proof to forecast the weather ahead but like kids, I suppose our minds tend to drift. I suppose we forget the lessons of what to look for until it’s too late. I am unsure now, and yet content by the quiet sounds of the wind and the chattering droplets of rain to indicate the storm is growing closer.
But I don’t mind.
I don’t mind the rumbles and the sounds of thunder or the quick little flashes when lightening splinters through the sky. So what if the power goes down; so what if for the moment, the news goes off and the television is quiet; so what if there is nothing else to do but endure the moment and hear the sound of rain as it pelts against the roof; so what? Is this really a threat?
I am thinking about places outside of my understanding. I am thinking of places where I have never been, like Sacramento, or maybe even San Francisco. I am thinking about the old tenements in the Bronx where as a small boy, I would go to visit my Grandmother. She would make me soup or something special on a Challah bagel and either way, no matter what the food was, nothing in the world ever tasted anything like Grandma would make. I am thinking about the skies I’ve seen over a place in Miami. The midday sun was briefly interrupted by a terrible rainfall, and shortly after, the sun would reappear and the heat would break (at least for the moment).
I am thinking about the warning signs that come with life. But more, I am thinking about the times I overlooked these signs—I expected the storm would pass, which it always does but still, it does suck to be caught in a storm with no toilet paper in the bathroom or milk and butter in the fridge. And by the way, I mean this figuratively, and yet, I hardly mean this at all. Instead, I see this as an analogy and the sky is nothing more than symbolic to a moment of turmoil. And this is fine because at least the storm will pass and alas, at least the heat will break (so the sky can be happy again).
There is so much to learn by looking at the sky. I know this now. I understand what my Old Man was trying to teach me. There are times when we need to pay attention. We have to see what’s going on and be prepared. This is not to cause panic but instead, this is a means to think ahead and be prepared; so that when the storm comes and the lights go out, at least we have candles to light the way. And candlelight is a good thing. Believe me. It’s a symbol; it’s an analogy or more, it’s a gift from the heavens to remind us that now is the time to shush and wait.
I don’t mind the storms. I know they are here for a reason. I know that they are bound to come. I suppose like most kids, I wish I paid more attention when my lessons were taught—not that I’d ever be able to predict the weather or see the future, but for sure—I’d have a better understanding of what it means to be prepared.
Don’t worry son.
It’s just a storm . . .
We’ll be just fine.