Being Stuck In the Rain

Being Stuck In The Rain

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I believe in being stuck in the rain. People are particularly definite about the weather they like and dislike. When faced with these conditions discomfort is not just undesirable, but is unacceptable. It has been my experience that people will do anything they can to avoid discomfort, especially in the form of unsatisfactory weather. I believe not that we should appreciate the comforts, but instead acknowledge and appreciate discomfort.

When I was 15, I set out on a semester long Outward Bound course in Northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area. I traveled hundreds of miles across northern Minnesota and southern Canada. This million-acre wilderness is a virtually untouched collection of lakes. Portages or trails between the lakes make the Boundary Waters navigable by canoe. I had romanticized this expedition of paddling into the wild. I thought that it was going to be a grand adventure, without bugs or challenge or bad weather. At the core of it, this expedition was the hardest thing I have ever completed. It was a constant mental and physical challenge. Paddling across lakes for seven to eight hours everyday was tiring. Hauling 60-pound canoes and gear across portages was exhausting.

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Adding to these travel and wilderness living challenges was the weather. The entire time that I was in the boundary waters, it rained all but three days. Colorado rain was rather polite, leaving me unprepared for Minnesota precipitation. This rain was heavy, relentless, and unforgiving. This could be an enjoyable rainstorm if your window framed it as opposed to a tent door. Everything was wet and rain gear only helped until water leaked through and trapped moisture. Our feet were constantly wet from stepping in and out of lakes as we loaded canoes with our gear. The temperature of the late fall evenings dropped significantly making the wet conditions all the more unbearable. These conditions consumed my mind. I could only think about how miserable I was. One night we were still trying to get to our destination, after nightfall, we were on an especially long portage. It was pouring, the trail couldn’t absorb any more water, and it was muddy and slippery. I couldn’t see where I was going under the canoe and the darkness killed my peripheral vision. I slipped, dropped the canoe. I laid there in defeat, letting the rain fall on me. There was no value in getting mad at the weather anymore. I stopped fighting the rain. I accepted the rain as an element, and came to believe that I was under its control instead of the converse. With this peaceful lack of control, I expected to suddenly enjoy myself. I expected this expedition to proceed with ease and simplicity. The reality was that my change in perspective did not change the weather, but instead changed my internal conditions. There was no battle rousing inside me. The rain still fell the same way, but my response adapted. I even came to believe in the value of being stuck in the rain.

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