When I was a young man I would wait expectantly for the rain storms. Every year they roll through the valley at the same time; electric and powerful – wind blowing around the charged air. My best friend and I would gas up my broken down little two-door and sneak into Camelback Mountain park, or one of the others to stand on the top of the mountain – arms raised high – defying the lighting gods as the storm churned overhead. Then it would pass and we would race down the mountain, leaping over rattlesnakes and through gullies to the car and careen down road and highway after the storm.
That young man was anxious for life to begin. The storm chasing was only a passing distraction as he waited expectantly for his moment of significance to arrive and whisk him away from a dreary place where everything was always the same. He was anxious, the itch of significance something that needed scratching. Now is never good enough, is it, when you are young? Acid flowed through his veins, a burning desire to see new things and experience things epic and immortal.
That young man who chased storms is older now – heavier of heart and with greater sense of self. I now sleep early and have no time to chase the lighting. But the lightning doesn’t need me. It has been here all along, steadfast and true while I wandered. It has outlasted my youth – as it did for my parents, and their parents before them. They abide – the storms do – as they have for centuries, as they will for centuries more. Immortality? It is the Arizona monsoons that are epic and unchanging – I know this now, after great sojourns in foreign places brought me back to the land of my youth for a time.
That is a nice thought; and is no longer a threat to a worried young man.
The last time I wrote about the rains it was about a grand storm in West Africa, black plastic bags dancing in front of the brown backdrop of dust before the cleansing deluge washed the dirty city clean; my little boy in my lap squealing at the peals of thunder. Soon my son, who squealed at African thunder will himself chase the monsoons in Arizona. Maybe it will be with a girl – trying to impress upon her his fearlessness. Maybe he too will have a best friend – a lasting friendship that abides despite long lapses of silence. It’s nice to think about that; that despite a world gone mad there is still a place where things don’t seem to change – where they are very much as I left them twenty years ago when I wandered out into the world.
Rebellion burns strong in young minds. Hope and change, the dream that after necessary convulsions a new order will inevitably emerge that is greater. These are immature ideas from untested minds – notions of a young man daring the gods from atop a mountain. Because the truth of the matter is that change should happen slowly, because is not very often a good thing. I know this now – after a time watching the great struggles. And I am happy for a place that moves slowly and where people still think most about their children; so that I have a place to return with mine.