… and the earth thought of rain.”
I remember the moment I read that sentence. A chill ran up my spine and goosebumps tickled the surface of my skin. It was as if I had just tasted decadent chocolate for the first time in my life, and my gut immediately begged for more. The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy is one of the most poetic and beautifully written stories I have ever read. It was recommended to me by a woman who writes for The New Yorker. She is a boss. I kept reading that quote over and over in my mind, repeating it until it had become somewhat of a mantra for meditation.
The way that those few words articulated the indescribable suspense before a major storm was exciting. Despite the lack of sensory words, I could still feel the sticky humidity on my skin and in my curly hair. Rainfall became more of a spiritual communication between the earth and the sky. Just as we as humans desire water when we feel parched, so does the earth. As I repeatedly chanted this new mantra in my head, more and more thoughts filled my mind about rainfall: a simple event that I had previously thought next to nothing about — “… and the earth thought of rain.”
I struggled to find a novel that had the same effect on me. In my quest to find such a book, I was often recommended cheesy, romantic young adult books. I began to read through these books, hunting for a new sentence or phrase to light that same spark in my gut, to no avail. That is, until I read One Hundred Years of Solitude by the incredibly talented Latinx author named Gabriel Gárcia Márquez. He paid tribute to the intimate details of a person’s character.
I stopped looking to be inspired by other writers. Instead, I decided to train myself to think like Conroy and Márquez. I wanted to look at the world around me as closely as they did, admiring the poetry in everything around me. The world will just keep spinning by if we do not stop to live in the moment. These poetic novels trained my mind to be in the present. That chill that shocked my spine with great force was a physical manifestation of my unfulfilled desire to want to be like an author and be present.
In a perfect world, everyone would think and act like Conroy and Márquez. If before every storm, people would say that the earth is thinking of rain, then we might adopt a more compassionate view toward our planet. If we were able to create such eloquent relationships, no matter how complicated, then we might have more compassion and empathy toward each other.
I realize that this is a highly romanticized view of the world. Some might only want to think of rain as strictly being a part of the weather pattern, and let the moment pass. Others will curse the rain for ruining plans and making travel more difficult. Me? I want us to think of the rain as being a connection to something bigger: a way of communicating in the natural world that is so different than the ways we communicate, yet beautiful and rightful in its own way.
As the school year starts, this is an important lesson for me and everyone to keep in mind. I remember the general character of my freshman year being fun and fulfilling. However, what I cannot remember are many of the small moments that contributed to that feeling of nostalgia when looking back on that year. The moments that I do remember were when my mind was present and focused on the details. Those are the times that I can describe with the most fondness, recalling every intimate detail.
It is so easy to be consumed in our classes and busy schedules. We forget to focus on the details and ambience that we are constantly immersed in. This is where brilliance is born. Attention to detail and the pursuit of romanticism in every interaction we have with each other and our environment will help keep us, as students, grounded, when our busy schedules seem to be taking us on unwanted rides.
Pick up a novel that speaks to you. Enjoy the way a phrase sounds or the way it makes you feel. Allow yourself to feel what the author is feeling. Be in the present with them. Train your mind to do this, and I truly believe that campus can become a happier and more beautiful place.