The sky was black and the sound of thunder rumbled from the darkening skies behind me. The American anthem had just finished playing, echoing out from the baseball stadium across the way and was followed by an eruption of cheer from the crowd as the whistle blew to indicate the start of the game. The clouds were rolling fast overhead, almost as though a painter was mindlessly brushing dark grey strokes across what was left of the blue sky. In a matter of minutes, Manhattan Island, which stood opposite me across the water was completely shrouded in thick low clouds and in no time at all the heavens opened and large raindrops started falling hard and fast all around us. Welcome to New York.
The small crowd of adults who were observing a bright orange firefighting boat spit streams of water up into the air in a practice drill, rushed to the safety of the undercover walkway whilst zipping up their rain jackets. As we huddled to seek shelter from the rain, two little girls ran out from the crowd into the abandoned open space in front of us and started chasing each other squealing with joy as their little feet hit the newly formed puddles, resulting in the water leaping up and splashing their dry clothes.
It had been one of my better days that I can remember. Ben and I had been in New York for almost a week and were trying to tick some of the more scenic sightseeing places off of the list. We had been advised to take the Staten Island ferry from WhiteHall Terminal in Manhattan, which by the way is free of charge, in order to get a good glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. This excursion was the reason that led me to witnessing this beautifully innocent moment which inspired me to write again for the first time in a long time.
These two little girls no older than six years old were having a blast in the rain, enjoying every drop and every splash that their little feet landed in. As they sped around each other, the one girl tripped and fell onto her knees immediately looking at her mother for some sympathy, to which her mother replied, ‘Shake it off Honey, just shake it off.’. This prompted her to get back up & continue chasing her sister. As I grinned cheesily, and maybe a little creepily at the liberating scene unfolding in front of me, I too longed to be running in the rain, but yet something was holding me back. As I looked around me, twenty or so adults were standing around under the shelter with their arms crossed and muttering sweet nothings about the weather whilst watching the children with disbelief. At what point in my life did I start to think that it was inappropriate for adults to dance in the rain? At what point in my life did I start to believe that it was inappropriate to stand with my arms stretched out & my mouth open catching the falling rain onto my tongue? When was it that I started worrying about what the rest of the world thought about me?
I can’t remember when this change took place exactly. I’m guessing that it happens to most of us in our teenage years when we begin to start caring about our appearance and when the opinions of other girls and boys matter more than anything. I’m guessing that it is largely related to when the media corrupts our childlike innocence with beauty magazines, movies and gossip tabloids telling us that we aren’t thin enough, and if we happen to be thin enough, we sure as hell aren’t toned enough, we aren’t pretty enough and we don’t wear stylish enough clothing. And so our self-image becomes one of the most important aspects of our life, it dictates and limits our actions, it restricts our behaviour & we start to behave in a way that we believe is acceptable according to the standards of modern society. As an adult we don’t dance in the rain because our clothes will get wet, it’s childish, we’re showing off, it’s for attention, we might get sick, and so the list of reasons to not dance goes on.
As a female in particular, it’s hard to not worry about what others think especially when you have an online presence. We have responsibilities to be a role model, an opportunity to influence others to be a better version of themselves, but how can I preach these things when I don’t have the confidence to dance in the rain when that’s all that I wanted to do? Who cares what the grumpy man standing under the bridge thinks? Who cares what the high powered business woman in her amazingly stylish outfit thinks (although I might have to ask her where she got it from), and who cares what the good looking guy or girl thinks? I do, and I shouldn’t. We both do and we both shouldn’t.
Despite my feed being spammed with cliched quotes lately, which to be honest are really starting to get under my skin, because as beautiful as inspirational quotes are they are often very unrealistic such as ‘Quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, never return’ and yes, travel definitely does feed your soul like nothing else out there, but I also realise that I’m in a very privileged position to be able to travel and make money from it, so I’m not going to encourage others to quit their job and travel in order to feed their soul above feeding their families. But this cliched quote ‘Dance in the rain’, really resonated with me and maybe it’s because I finally understood what it meant it in the most literal sense.
So without wanting to sound like a cheeseball, I put forth a personal challenge to make sure that I dance in the rain whenever I can and whenever I want.
No really…I’m being serious. Pretty much like in the Notebook. Except that I’m a terrible dancer.