There were beautiful, terrifying thunderstorms over London last night. Forked lightning, huge thunderclaps and torrential, tropical storm-style, rain. As a confirmed pluviophile, I spent a happy half hour at 2am, staring out the window at the downpour; marvelling at the shrubs in my front garden bowing beneath the weight of raindrops and the road beyond appearing more like a babbling brook than an asphalt highway. There was so much moving water it was hard to tell where the pavement ended and the road began. I adore these kind of storms – because they scare me. They remind me how small, how powerless, how insignificant we really are in comparison with Mother Nature.
Later in the day, after the rain ceased and the sun attempted to appear, I went to cast my vote in the EU Referendum. Voting is an act, a duty, that never fails to make me feel wholly adult, responsible, significant, powerful, part of a collective voice. It always makes me a little nervous (and especially so on this day, with so much at stake). So I took a deep breath, ticked my box and quickly left the polling station, crossed the road and stepped into the deep green calm of the park.
I was greeted by the most enormous puddle I have ever seen. There, surrounded by towering trees, ominous skies and horribly humid air, a small boy dressed in a tee shirt, shorts and wellies walked with trepidation into the puddle. With gentle encouragement from his grandmother, he took tiny, faltering, steps towards the middle. Looking nervously down through the water to where he knew his feet were. With each shuffling, tentative step, the slow smile that spread across on his face brought a growing lump to my throat. A tangled lump, like a ball of elastic bands. Nostalgia intertwined with pure joy, a knot of regret and and tight coil of envy. It made me yearn to be that small again. To be that in awe of a large expanse of water; to feel so small, so tiny, so innocent, so light. Even for one day. Now I wish I had thrown off my shoes, rolled up my jeans and joined him, wading into the depths, not caring what any onlookers thought, purely focussed on the fearless, irrepressible joy of the moment. I didn’t. But I really, really wanted to.
And in this, it feels like a message from the Universe. I’m about to embark on a big scary writing project. Something extremely personal. Something I’ve been trying to hide from. Something that I need to ‘put out there’ in order to help myself but also, hopefully, to help others. As an innately private person, the prospect terrifies me despite knowing it’s the ‘right’ thing to do. The clichéd line: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain”, has never felt so apt. In a good way. One small, shuffling step at a time…