South Africa is experiencing one of the most challenging droughts in the last 20 years. Municipalities have imposed water restrictions on citizens to overcome the 15% deficit the country is facing. The reservoirs and dams are drying up.
Rationing is taking place as we speak. You’d better shower by 8:55pm because tonight there won’t be any water from 9pm to 5am tomorrow morning. It’s scary. No, it’s terrifying. Listen to the news and you’ll see how critical the situation is.
And yet, every day this week we have had rain. In fact, this afternoon it’s pouring outside. Bucketing down. Lightning flashes, throbs of deafening thunder, rain pounding the ground with unrelenting frequency. It’s beautiful. I was about to drive out to attend my weekly capoeira class, but leaving now would be folly. The roads are flooded, there is intermittent hail and South African’s are notoriously bad drivers in the rain.
So I’ll stay inside and write instead. I’ll write about the times, when I was a child, that I wished the rain would “go away”, so that I could play outside. Those words in a time of drought are troubling to reflect on. When I see the rain now I feel relief, joy, wonder and gratitude. I see every drop doing what it’s been sent to do, nourish the dehydrated pockets of life, invigorating them with new possibilities.
But hang on a second. What about the people in the other parts of the world that are experiencing torrential floods? What about the people who have lost their homes to incessant rain, pounding and piling up until it seeps in under the doors? They flee with their lives, losing everything to the rain.
Gratitude is contextual. It’s relational. We make sense of it through our recent experiences, through our perspectives. So, breathe a sigh of relief, because gratitude is within our control.
“Really? Even in those moments where the world’s upside down and I’m falling to pieces? Give me a break!”
Yes, it is. I didn’t say it was easy, but the fact that we build up the context around gratitude means that we can shape it. Here is how you can begin to do it…