The night before last, I watched the evening news for the first time in several years. I rarely watch TV anymore, because if I’m that bored I’ll find a full episode of one of my favorite shows to watch online with minimal commercials, or I’ll spend some time in a yoga pose to enliven my mind.

The night before last, though, I had gotten home from yoga class at 9 o’clock, then started making the dinner I had been craving, which took me until 10 o’clock to finish eating and cleaning up. So I felt like “vegging” out a little before going to bed. I plopped myself down on the couch for some non-computer-related catatonia. Stripped down to the 12 or 14 basic channels, there isn’t that much channel surfing to do, but it’s still amazing how long even those limited choices kept me going.

At one point, it was time for the 11 o’clock local news, and all three channels were talking about the “storm of the century” (or at least of the season) that was forecasted to arrive the next day. Images of a small, bright yellow blob surrounded by a bigger, darker green blob located off the cartoon coast of a map of the Bay Area flashed on the screen. These were followed by stock footage of ocean waves crashing in a misty, foreboding dusk lighting; rock walls being pummeled by said waves, as oceanside shanties, perched precariously on wooden stilts as sandy sheerfaced cliffs dropped off beneath them, stood naively against the tumultuous wind and rain. Cut to an image of sheets of rain, being blown horizontally across a glistening blacktop parking lot.

The voices of the newscasters warned of a “dangerous morning commute” and “gale force winds by lunchtime” followed by a “treacherous rush hour ride home” the next day (which was yesterday). As if to add to the scientific accuracy and credence we were to lend to these predictions, the meteorologist clicked on the Doppler radar graphic (the one with the green and yellow blob) and measured the distance from the yellow blob to the edge of land, confirming the prediction that the storm would arrive well before daybreak in San Francisco, make its way down the Peninsula just in time to “wreak havoc on the morning commute”.

So when I woke up the next morning, I found myself looking expectantly at the sky, wondering why it wasn’t raining yet! I felt cheated out of the storm that had been promised to me by the newscasters the night before. All day long, I kept looking up, seeing patches of light blue luminous sky scattered with puffy white clouds, with the sun dappling the long green pine needles on the tree outside my window, and thinking, “It’s not supposed to be sunny today!” I noticed myself feeling a little resentful of all the sun, before I paused to observe that I was so attached to the newscasters’ stories from the night before, I was unable to behold the beauty of the reality in front of me.

It went on like this literally all day. I left the house several hours before the rush hour commute, and it still wasn’t raining, but I wasn’t going to get caught in any traffic trying to get to my office. I had an evening gathering in my studio, which, as I had shut off the TV the night before, I had thought, “I wonder if I should just cancel it. No one will want to fight the traffic or get drenched just to come and make music.” I had visions of people huddled under makeshift hoods, heads ducked in order to avoid the torrents of rain, and nowhere to put their soaked jackets and boots once they came into my studio. For a brief moment, the idea flashed through my head that I should go buy a coatrack.

And by 7 o’clock in the evening, still no rain. Not a drop. Our gathering went until 9:30. When I finally left the studio after 10, the only evidence of any “storm” was a few damp spots on the blacktop pavement and the shiny pearls of moisture beading the windshield of my parked car. Nothing was falling from the sky. It was quite balmy, in fact. No gusting winds blew from any direction either.

In fact, it wasn’t until almost 11:30pm that the rain started falling. It was gentle, quiet, actually soothing at times. I listened to it, recognizing that I had spent an entire day braced in anticipation of a future event that I believed had been promised to me.

All because I’d watched the evening news.

It was a reminder of how easy it is to get derailed from the present moment. There was no reason for me to question the sun, the clouds, the warmth, the gentle breeze…except for the self-assured warnings of the meteorologists, their “scientific” data presented as colorful blobs on a screen. I stood in resistance to nature for an entire day, feeling tricked, or swindled, out of the storm that was promised to me. Imagine that. Luckily this was only a day. And I took the time to notice it in particular for this writing assignment. But it got me thinking, how much of our lives do we spend waiting for a catastrophe that someone else’s story made us believe was promised to us?

“Don’t do that, you’ll get hurt. You’ll be lonely. You’ll be broke. You’ll fail.”

All of these are simply stories on someone’s version of the evening news. They may be quite convincing with their “science” and apparent “tools” to measure their own accuracy. But who and how much you choose to believe is still up to you. How you look at the sun and the sky and the clouds – or the wind and the rain and the cold – is up to you.

Find the gifts in each moment. Face the storm when it comes. But not a moment sooner.

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