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Gratitude

Today, I walked in the rain.

I had to leave the house to run an essential errand at my uni, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to actually brush my hair, put on some mascara, and wear something with an actual shape. As I pulled into the carpark, the rain started. By the time I had filled in my details on the Parking app, it was torrential. Drops pelted the concrete frame of the carpark with such force, I could barely hear the conversation of my companion.

My first though? Oh for gods sake; my outfit is going to be ruined.

There were no two ways round it though; the errand was essential, and I was going to get soaked.

My bad mood continued all the way up the hill to campus, easing off slightly when I reached the gorgeous old buildings, greeting them like familiar friends after a long period of digital interaction and online learning. For the first time all year, I stood in front of the Great Hall and drank in the incredible Gothic revival architecture. The rain had made everything soft around the edges, and the majesty of the structure brought with it a sense of calm. This building had stood, unrelenting, for over 100 years. Inside the walls, students had laughed, cried, argued, celebrated and commiserated. As I passed through the heavy front doors, the unmistakable smell of old building and administration hit me with a jolt; so drastically different from my old home, who’s aroma of coffee, family life and gardening had become my norm over the last 8 months. My boots echoed on the stone floor, only to be muffled by the thick carpet, and the warmth of the room started to dry my soggy hair.

Once my responsibilities were taken care of, it was time to re-enter the great outdoors. As I hovered in the doorway, it became clear that the rain had increased in its fury, if that was even possible. Now though, it looked different.

As I headed back out to the open, I paused. The droplets were bouncing off the flagstone floor in front of me, each one a mixture of colours as they hit the light. I could feel the drops on my hair, each one distinct and unique; hitting the top of my head, and soaking down, reanimating the sodden strands which had taken a chance to dry off in their temporary reprieve.

Thats when I realised.

I was lucky to be able to feel the rain. To feel the biting October cold on my hands, turning my fingers numb. To turn my face up and feel each bead of rain hit my face. To feel the weight of my hair, heavy on my head.

I took a step. Then another, then another, until I reached the main road. All around me were people covering their faces, throwing up their hoods, hiding underneath files and folders and books. And all I wanted to do was laugh.

This year has been tough. We have been subjected to rules and regulations which are a direct contravention of our most basic rights; the right to free movement, to freedom of association and, increasingly, to freedom of speech. We have been told what to do every minute of every day, with relentless updates and briefings and rule changes and advice and guidance. Those with the power to do so have sought to control every aspect of our lives; where we go, when we go there, who we go with, what we do at home, who we speak to. In some cases, even the contents of our shopping trolley is cause for inspection and scrutiny.

But this, nobody could control.

The rain falls. The leaves fall. The wheel of the year continues to turn. No regulation or rule, Government or politician on Earth has the power to change that.

As the rain continued to pour, my jeans became sodden, my hair was ruined, and my carefully applied mascara was smeared across my face.

And all I felt was gratitude.

I was able to walk in the rain, feel it on my face, and breathe in fresh air. A freedom denied to so many for so long

If you can feel the rain, it means you are free.

And that is something none of us should ever take for granted again.

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