Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Confessions of a Crybaby

Purple wisteria in a nearby park in May

One of my favorite children’s books that we read to Ben and Stephanie when they were growing up is titled Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. All the weather in the fictional town of Chewandswallow was food. It came three times a day: at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So no one ever had to cook, which sounded great to me. The weather rained soup and juice, snowed mashed potatoes and green peas, and occasionally there was wind that blew in storms of hamburgers, pancakes, or sausages. On one of the worst days, spaghetti tied up the town. We enjoyed laughing at the weather with our kids.

But I confess that today I’m not laughing at the weather at all. In fact, I’m really sick and tired of this grayness. Rainy season was bad enough when it was supposed to be rainy, back in June, and worse when it just kept on going into July. But this is October, my favorite month of the year because the sky is a clear blue and the temperatures are just right—cool in the mornings and evenings, and warm, but not too hot, during the days. And finally the horrible humidity of summer has passed. Only things are haywire this month. I could write a book called Cloudy and Rainy with no Chance of Clearing.

Which is why I was happy to discover some notes I wrote back in May after taking a walk through our neighborhood. For some reason, I’d been struck by the abundance of colors I was seeing that day as I stretched my legs after too many hours at the computer. I’d jotted the following notes in my date book: a red mailbox; purple hydrangeas; a green signal at the corner; red geraniums in window boxes; fresh spring green trees; the burnt red brick sidewalk leading to the brown boardwalk around the park; a clear stream reflecting the bright blue sky; an iridescent dragonfly flitting between lavender water irises; a father and son playing catch together, their orange and green baseball caps announcing their favorite baseball teams; pink roses; a triangular red stop sign; purple, pink, and white pansies at our door; and more.

I’d not stopped with noticing colors, but had scrawled six more words on the scrap of paper I’d found somewhere: the myth of the gray city. What in the world was I thinking? I wondered as I reread the paper today. There’s no myth about this gray city. Tokyo is a concrete jungle, and on rainy days like today the gray seems grayer yet. (It’s been like this for a couple of weeks now. The laundry basket is overflowing and clothes of all descriptions are hanging out around the house to dry, even though this is practically impossible in this humidity that gives me a headache and makes the air as heavy as my backpack when I return from grocery shopping.)

Looking more carefully at what I’d written, I saw one additional notation: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:2).

Suddenly I remembered the lesson I’d contemplated that beautiful spring day. It is not a question of gray versus the brilliant colors of the rainbow. Color is all around me, even in the gray city. The question is, where will I fix my attention? It’s a choice I make every day, and it affects all of life, not just my thoughts about the weather.