She must have been reading my mind. You know those days when you desperately need some sort of sign from the universe. You look everywhere hoping it shows up: under a pillow, over your shoulder, inside the glove compartment – anywhere there is chance or remote possibility.
The days of October had dropped me to the ground with a case of writer’s cramp and the usual other ailment: too much on my proverbial plate. Much like fallen leaves, I woke up one morning tired, fragile, depleted. Even my fingers ached with second thoughts after filling out the absentee ballot perched on the kitchen counter for weeks. I was politicked out.
And then quite unexpectedly, Mother Nature delivered. A sudden downpour. The gathering of raindrops. By day’s end, the pièce de résistance made its appearance: a rainbow. For a few moments the world stopped, my troubles melting away like lemon drops.
Standing outside the back door, eyes glossed skyward, the smell of fresh rain (was) so intoxicating I could have sworn I was in Kansas. With or without Dorothy, the mood was pure magic. I posted a photo on Facebook and at last count there were more than 500 likes, comments, shares.
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Funny the things that shake, rattle and roll us, change our perspectives, make an immediate adjustment to the emotional thermostat. In less than a flash, I went from stress and strain to standing upright in Oz, feet drizzled and dazzling in red glitter. Or so it seemed.
The timing couldn’t have been better, right on the cusp of November, that “calm before the storm” period of fall – four weeks out from Thanksgiving, eight weeks and counting till Christmas.
Like many others, for months I had obsessed over defending civility, arguing for and against people and propositions, forgetting that charity begins at home, in our neighborhoods, with families and friends.
A simple rainbow transported me from lost to found. Drowning in my own enthusiasm, I felt revived, eager to shake hands with the universe again, reconcile differences, live lighter, laugh more. In other words, fall in love with life all over again.
And so, rewinding the day, making up for lost time as best I could, I baked a double batch of pumpkin muffins from scratch, invited my mother for coffee, yanked the grandkids outside – all of us oohing and aahing over simultaneous falling raindrops, brilliant blues, sun-drenched yellows and pretty pinks cascading from the sky.
Standing in the rain, it dawned on me that we are a people desperate for rainbows right now. And the hope they signify.
As November breathes new life into each of us, it’s a perfect time to share gratitude. For me, that translates into thanking readers who go out of their way to write, comment on columns, and share personal stories. I’d love to include everyone here, but my editors would scold me.
To Heidi Sagaser, once you wrote me saying, “I hope you win every writing award there is. Your writing is brilliant.” Encouraging words. We can all use them. Any and all days of the week.
To Jackie Ryle, your Sunday emails and unwavering support simply make my day and fuel my writing journey. By the way, “if ever there ever a wiz there was” (of Fresno), she would be you. P.S. Happy birthday!
To Al Smith, Warren Kessler, Jefferson Beavers, Steve Howell, Stuart Home, Earl Wright, Rich Berrett, Brad Hill, Phil Fullerton, Jon Morse, Tony Ross, Gary Giese and Michael MacChesney, thank you for sharing your own stories and unique perspectives via email reactions to my columns.
A special shout out to you, Richard Quiring, for reminding me not long ago, “Everyone’s journey follows a different road. All are affected, effected and infected with opportunities challenges and barriers. There will always be days and nights filled with joys, triumphs and victories, others with struggles, tragedies and pain. Add to these, lots of days full of the mundane. Without this diversity in life’s journey, where would the creativity for our stories come from?”
To Beatrice Valenzuela Carol Rice, Margaret Shirin, Danielle Shapazian, Shirley Bruegman, Ardemis Menendian, Sue Kraus, Sylvia Ballas, Lillian Gatzman, Cyndy Hodges, Kathy Nagel, Carol Yrulegui, Mary Eurgubian, I must say we have a knack for finding each other in the dark, for unveiling our souls, for leaning in and then wrapping arms around each other – in friendship, comfort, support and everything in-between. We are a tribe to be reckoned with: indomitable, unbreakable spirits.
And to the countless readers who sent well wishes and love notes in learning of my bout with pneumonia last spring, each of you served as a lifeline during very trying and uncertain times. Thank you for your generosity of spirit.
And finally, thank you to my friends and colleagues at The Fresno Bee and Fresno State.
Next week Volume II of “My Name is Armen – Outside the Lines” will be released. Without a doubt, another “pinch me” moment. Thank you (both) for inviting me to share life’s journey in written prose. One thing is for sure: Wherever the road leads, the path never fails in bringing me back to this wondrous place called home.
Sometimes a downpour from Mother Nature becomes a catalyst for gratitude and a perfect excuse to press the pause button, wake up our senses, and breathe it all in.
Here’s to hope for the future.
Armen D. Bacon of Fresno is a writer and co-author of “Griefland: An Intimate Portrait of Love, Loss and Unlikely Friendship” and a two collections of essays titled “My Name is Armen – A Life in Column Inches” and “My Name is Armen – Outside the Lines.” Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, @ArmenBacon.