Dancing In The Rain

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I came across this picture last week. I remember hearing this when I was much younger, and thinking..”Who wouldn’t want to dance in the rain? That sounds like fun!”

Little did I know.

InTheRain

Now, as an adult having faced some of life’s most enduring challenges..illness, death, and loss, I understand what this saying really means. When things aren’t going as we planned, expected or hoped, it’s about embracing those experiences and living in the moment, anyway.

This is no easy practice to apply.

Last weekend, my sister Ivan and two of my cousins, Huda and Linda were visiting . (I’m currently visiting my sister Nina in Philadelphia) We planned to go out and see some of the sites in the city and spend the day outside. When we made it to our first stop, the famous Rocky statue, it started raining. We tried waiting it out, but it didn’t let up. So we decided to leave and find a coffee shop where we could sit inside and wait for the weather to clear up. As soon as we arrived to the central part of the city, it started pouring down rain. There went our plans for the day.

The five of us huddled under an awning and waited impatiently as we watched the rain come down. Immediately, I started to think how annoying it was that the rain had ruined our plans. But then I caught myself. Instead of thinking that our day was ruined, I thought, why not make the most of it? You can’t change the weather. How often do the five of us get to spend time together (we each live in different cities) and just slow down? In fact, that moment is what made me recall the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

That’s what I’ve been learning, especially over the past year. We all make big plans for life, and we expect life to act accordingly. But often times, our plans, big or small, don’t work out the way we want them to.  And when that happens, it’s easy for us to feel discouraged or frustrated. I’ve found myself in situations saying, “This is not how it’s supposed to be.” Or “This is not what I was expecting.”  But instead of backing away, and waiting for things to change or get better,  we can appreciate our experiences for what they are.

Our day in the rain was just a small thing. But I thought, if I could adapt this way of thinking to ordinary things, then maybe I could learn to see the bigger plans that don’t work out the way I hoped, as opportunities to embrace too. I think the true test of our character comes when things don’t turn out quite the way we want, but we go forward with grace anyway.

Have you recently had an experience that made you think of this saying? Maybe it was an important event in your life, or a vacation you planned? Or even a social activity you were looking forward to? Please share if you have.

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Trombones and Dreams

When I made the decision to step away from my career, someone close to me said that it would be a tremendous learning experience. They were right. This week I had the chance to visit with family whom I haven’t seen in years. I spent the week with my older cousins, Sarah, Amani, and my sister Ivan, who are each strong, courageous women by their own rights. I also spent time with my younger cousins–four beautiful, loving boys. It was amazing to see how each of them has their own personality and individual ways that make them special.

It has often been said that people come into our lives for a reason. This idea has revealed itself time and time again as my journey continues. The opportunity to spend time with the boys was a blessing. It must have been God speaking to me. More like yelling, loud and all at once! I felt renewed by their energy and laughter. I didn’t expect it to be a learning experience. But it was a testament that life is a continuous learning process, and we can learn from people who we least expect to. One particular moment served as a lesson to me.

Khalid, the eldest of four, is 11-years-old, and he is learning to play the trombone. One afternoon in the kitchen, I overheard him and my sister having a conversation. She was speaking of a friend who is in film school in New York, and who has always dreamed of making films. Khalid, in a matter-of-fact tone that only an eleven year old can articulate, asked, “Why is she doing that? Do you know how many people fail trying to make movies?”

I was taken aback that someone so young would say such a pragmatic thing, but also saddened by it because he seemed to lack the idealistic outlook that I expect of someone his age. My sister, ever the optimist, pushed back and replied, “Yeah, but you’ll never know if you don’t try to pursue your dreams. And if you fail, at least you tried, right?”

The next evening, Khalid brought his trombone out and played for us in the kitchen. He filled the house with high notes, and we all gathered around and applauded him. His younger brother, Ehab, acted as conductor, while Nedal and Omar waved their arms and danced around the house. We even gave him a stage name, Kal Raz (although that’s still being contended). Khalid told me that he practices in music class at school, and every day at home too.

Later that evening, the two of us went for a walk together. I asked him about school, and what his favorite subject was. History. Then I asked him if he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. Without hesitation, he said “A lawyer.” I smiled, impressed by his confidence. “That’s great,” I told him. “I think you’d make a fine lawyer.” But deep down, a part of me flinched, hoping that he will keep playing the trombone, because I saw the way his eyes lit up after he played the first song for us. Or perhaps one day he’ll want to play the guitar. Or be an aspiring writer. Whatever it is that makes his eyes light up the way they did. Because as mature adults, we know that our interests and passions change along the way. Before I left, I told Khalid to keep practicing and working hard at the trombone. Because he’s good at it, and you have to work hard at any talent. I told him that one day he could be a great trombone player. In essence, I was pleading with him to follow his dreams. Now that I think back, I wonder, was I pleading with myself too?

I have always been someone who has sought advice from others. I am the youngest of four siblings. I was fortunate to have people guide me and teach me and learn from their mistakes. I have been blessed with amazing mentors who believed in me and supported me.  I am so grateful that I have had so many people willing to help me and share their knowledge with me throughout my career. I deeply value the insight and guidance I gained from all of them. But I never imagined that I would learn something so  inspiring from someone who still has his whole life ahead of him.

(from left) Nidal 9, Khaled 11, Sarah, Ehab 7, Omar 5

(from left) Nedal 8,Khalid 11,Sarah(mom), Ehab 7, Omar 5

Khaled Razick, 11

Khalid Razick, 11