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When the Rain Comes

It's never made sense to me why the hardest question for me to answer has always been "Who am I?" You'd think that would be quite a simple thing, but I've found it to be incredibly difficult, complex, confusing and frustrating to even attempt to answer. Perhaps it's because the question is open-ended. I've never been good at answering open-ended questions about myself. I find it almost impossible to list my favorites of pretty much anything. Favorite movies? No clue. Favorite songs? Not the faintest idea. Favorite books? Drawing another blank here. Favorite candy? Well, I do like black licorice, but beyond that? I couldn't list my favorites with any degree of accuracy if my life depended on it.

I came across a thread posted by another user on this forum today, and she also seemed to be having difficulty untangling the question of who she was, and so rather than comment on her post, it seemed quite logical for me to make my own blog post so I could ramble on. In the thread she started, though, one of the responses was by someone who suggested that she start eliminating who/what she wasn't. That approach made a lot of sense to me. I'd never thought of if that way before.

While there are some things that I know that I am, there are quite a bit more things that I know that I am not. Perhaps it can be partially a process of elimination. The thing is that even starting this blog entry has proved to be unsettling for me. I don't like to think about who I am, because I find it very disturbing that I am unable to answer that question in a way that satisfies me. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me, even though the logical side of me knows that simply cannot be the truth. If there is indeed something wrong with me, it must be for some reason(s) unrelated to whether or not I can define who I am.

The title of this blog entry comes from something that I know. I do know rain. Although I have visited the desert, I didn't grow up there, and rain is something with which I am familiar. It has been a constant throughout my life. I have always found the rain to be incredibly soothing and relaxing and comforting. I've known that, no matter what happens in my life, the rain will always come back. It will always be there again at some point in the future. Even on the brightest and sunniest day, I know it's only a matter of days/weeks before the rain comes again.

Although I don't much like my mother, I do like that she liked the rain. Rainy days were often celebrated when I was growing up. On cool rainy days, we'd put on our rain boots and go out splashing in the puddles. On hot summer rainy days, we'd often skip the boots altogether and go out barefooted in the rain. I can still remember a specific summer rainstorm that happened when I was at my grandma's house when I was a little girl. It rained very heavily that day, and the bottom of her backyard (which was at the bottom of a large hill) couldn't drain fast enough and flooded with about six inches of water. I think the reason I remember this particular rainstorm is because I went out walking through these long puddles at the bottom of her backyard. I was barefooted, and I still remember the warmth of the water and the odd sensation of grass underneath water underneath the soles of my feet. I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling. It was quite strange. Not unpleasant, just unfamiliar and odd.

Since my mother liked the rain so much, when I look back, I have lots of memories of moments spent in the rain. There are a lot of memories of puddles and getting drenched in an intense downpour. I can still remember the way cold rainwater felt on my bare shoulders, and I also have a distinct memory of a tiny stream of water snaking its way down the center of my back as the rain dripped off the end of the braid in my hair.

I think that perhaps the rain's constancy has helped me cope with the things in life that have been unsettling and confusing. I know there are a lot of songs about the rain. Sometimes the songs are sad songs, but I don't think that rain has ever saddened me. I like the sound of it. I like the feel of it. I like watching it fall. One of my favorite memories comes from when I was pregnant with my oldest son. It was not far from my due date, and I was sitting in the passenger side of his dad's car parked on the side of the road in some tiny town somewhere. We had gone out for a drive and a bite to eat and had been caught by surprise by an unexpected summer rain shower. Since we were parked, we didn't have the windshield wipers on, and the rain was coming down really hard. I remember lifting my shirt up and tucking it just under the band of my bra so my very round stomach was visible. My son was kicking pretty fiercely, and I could see my stomach poke out a bit over and over in the spot where he was kicking me. That's not the bit that I loved, though, although that was pretty cool too. The really awesome bit was that, once my stomach was bare, I could see the pattern of the rain falling. The shadow of the pattern of the raindrops was moving and moving across my skin while he kicked. I don't remember ever seeing something like that before. I guess the angle had to be just right or something for the pattern of the raindrops falling on the windshield to cast a shadow across my stomach. I found it mesmerizing. I didn't want to start the car and drive home. I just wanted to sit there on the side of the road watching the pattern of the rain falling play out across my stomach. It was so beautiful.

I guess I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I tend to do that. I think this entry is about finished for now. I notice that I've successfully avoided even attempting to answer the question of who I am, and for that I feel quite proud of myself. I'm not sure I much wanted to answer that question anyway. So there! I shall remain a mystery!


The photo is very evocative - I like that a lot, and it is the reason I decided to post a reply, because it reminds me of stormy days when as a child, I would go walking in my local countryside, hoping for rain...and often getting totally drenched. These were some of my happiest memories.

Usually I was alone - because I was almost always alone - but sometimes my mother would also be there, and her expression was also one of someone who loved being out in the rain.

For me it was cleansing, but also like a screen I could hide behind. It was also calming and predictable in ways that no other sensory environment I could be in could provide, so that when I was stressed or angry, or unable to contain myself, I would seek out any opportunity for walking in the rain - the heavier the better. Afterwards, I would always feel more settled, better balanced. Even in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm, there was peace and the sense of being part of something so much more powerful than I alone could be.

I still feel the same. I walk around my local neighbourhood at weekends, and during summer often get caught in sudden storms. The feel of rain on my skin is an innate form of relaxation, as effective as any meditation.
I am not sure that I could offer anything that could help with the 'who I am' question, but that is a question many of us ask, often of others if not ourselves.

I know that if anyone asked for my favourite things, I'd have no more idea than you have. Colour? Green. No idea why, except I like it and it is psychologically calming for me. Number? 7, but it's just a number. Book? No clue. Author? None come to mind. Last year I read 66 books in all, and I couldn't even pick which of them I liked the best, let alone over my entire life. Song? Nope, nothing.

Yet the inability to name these things doesn't really say anything about who I am. I am not the collection of things I like or am interested in. I am a husband and a friend, a father and an Aspie, a skilled technocrat, an accomplished engineer. I'm a hopeless plumber, a useless electrical engineer, and what I know about many subjects wouldn't tax the corner of a postage stamp, even in pretty large writing.

I am socially inept, a few seconds of enforced conversation can drain me, and if I met you in the street, within 10 seconds I'd have no idea who you were. Yet I am fiercely loyal to the people I count as my friends, I will fight any battle side-by-side with those I love, and I never give up or give in.

There are many more things that I am not than that I am, so it would be far easier to define myself by the absence of talents, but when I realise who I am by what I am, I believe myself to be far more than the sum of failures, of incapacities and incapabilities.

So it isn't in the superficial that you would find the answer, but in your qualities. The qualities that could, or do, enrich life in ways that nobody else on earth could do.

And if you don't know what those qualities are, maybe in the poor experiences of life you mentioned elsewhere you have spent so much time trying to please people who could not be pleased, that you have had insufficient opportunity to simply be yourself.
Perhaps the expectation that you could sum up a complex human being in a few words, paragraphs or pages is the problem. The very question 'who am I' is probably a futile endeavour. As if a meaningful answer could emerge. Having studied philosophy, I would suggest that other questions may be more meaningful as they may provide some basis for some answers. Who am I would arguably be the sum total of your entire life and all experiences leading up to now. Any attempt to find one or more of those experiences more important than others is simply over simplistic in my view. How is it that I am like I am may be a more useful question. Why am I like I am? again might be more useful. But for me the important questions are 'Do I like myself' and 'am I happy'. The answers for me are yes and no in that order. So I ask why am I like this and how did this happen.

Who am I is an identity question. If you do like yourself, then who you are is not important. If you are not happy, then think about why and do something about it.

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