I've always liked a rainy day.
It's a tap from Mother Nature, a replenishing of our life force. It's the energy of ions bristling in the air, the gentle thrum of drops on a window or roof, the laughing dash for cover, a child's delighted puddle-splash, the abundance of lushness in its wake.
A good rainy day — not the kind that brought torrents to parts of our region Friday — indeed has its charms.
A string of rainy days is something else. Charm gives way to gloom. Which leads to the observation that perhaps the allure of rain is the way it complements the sun, and vice versa. Each, after all, needs the other to be effective. Each draws strength from the other. Each is buoyed by the contrast.
Take this past week. Wednesday was brilliant, just absolutely lovely, and it's no coincidence it was bordered on both sides by long stretches of persistent precipitation.
Perhaps this recent run of rain has been front of mind because of the way it serves as a metaphor for our politics and our culture. I would say that dispiriting elections are the rainy season of politics — and we are in two election seasons right now — but that would leave so many other months of doom-and-gloom politics off the hook.
Still, elections are their own peculiar tempest, buffeting us with a deluge of mendacity. There's nothing like an election to remind one that there aren't many Diogenes in our midst.
The lies come fast and furious — on stage in a debate, in speeches and news conferences, on the floors of legislative chambers, in the ink of mailers sent to voters. And they're not even creative lies. So many are so easy to disprove. Is this the future of our politics? Is doing what's best for your country or state or district a hopelessly naive concept when pitted against doing whatever is needed to win?
But the gloom reaches beyond election season. Our politics now is trials and inquisitions, bags of cash and bars of gold, finding some votes and throwing out others, insisting standards apply to others but not oneself, peacock struts and senseless gibberish and beelines to the nearest cameras. And yes, there surely are good people involved in the endeavor but they won't call garbage when they see it, or if they do there aren't enough of them to create a big enough storm to wash the flotsam away.
It all seems so petty, so grubby, this never-ending look for an edge, a wedge, a way to one-up the next grifter.
Nor is it only in politics. People are being beset for who they are or being stopped from becoming their authentic selves. Some people want to be left alone but are ready to tell others what to do. Books are being banned and several of our local schools are being plagued with incidents of racist and antisemitic language that should have been banished from our minds decades ago.
I don't like being such a pessimist. It runs against my grain. I'm usually much more like my grandfather, about whom I've written before, a man who would look at a dark and threatening sky and invariably find a patch "over there" where it was a little brighter. I'm always looking for a patch.
But I don't see any leaders who can help get us out of this, perhaps because that would require a willingness to want to get out of it, and too many seem too comfortable living these lives of opposition, having a "them" to rail against.
It's times like these when you realize the importance of the personal relationships in your lives, your family and friends and neighbors. We need to build on that to tackle what ails us, if we want to find our bright patch.
The sun we seek is within us, if we care to let it shine.
Columnist Michael Dobie's opinions are his own.