Growing up in Seattle, I rarely noticed the rain. It was a part of who I was and I relied on its rhythm and patter as I went about my day. My husband was not a Seattle native and when we met, he had a lot to say about the rain. His favorite went something like this:
A newcomer to Seattle arrives on a rainy day. He gets up the next day and it’s raining. It also rains the day after that, and the day after that. He goes out to lunch and sees a young kid and asks out of despair, “Hey kid, does it ever stop raining around here?” The kid says, “How do I know? I’m only 6.”
After a few laughs, I remember thinking about the fact that because the rain was such a big part of my life, I didn’t notice it with the same kind of intention that someone with less familiarity might. Although it does rain a great deal in the Pacific Northwest, earning Washington the verdant Evergreen State reputation, it is not even in the top 10 wettest cities in the USA, let alone the world.
After almost a month wandering around New Zealand’s capital city, I understand extreme weather in a whole new way. Wellington is the windiest city on earth. As I watched locals sit on benches in the sun as sandwich boards blew down the street, or mother’s walking with coffee chatting with ease past warning signs about wind blowing strollers into oblivion, I wanted to scream, “IT’S REALLY WINDY – GRAB YOUR CHILDREN AND TAKE COVER!”
This wasn’t extreme, however, to those that call Wellington home. That was when it dawned on me. This wind was calling me into the present in an extreme way. When things are too familiar they don’t have the same power to command presence. This was an invitation and I had the choice to open myself up to it or seek shelter.
When something is extreme, it is exciting and dangerous, full of life and capable of destruction, vital and dormant, kinetic yet at times completely still. I can feel the energy of this extreme, both when it is prominent and especially when it is absent. It is this vortex of contrast that draws me out into this magnificent city. I am tentative, excited, and EXTREMELY present and that makes it an invitation I can’t refuse!
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