You may have heard that it rains a lot in Seattle. It does rain more than average, there’s no getting around it. But there are a lot of much rainier cities. We don’t even make the top 10 rainiest U.S. cities, by a long shot. The entire eastern seaboard of the U.S. gets more annual rainfall than Seattle. Here’s the deal, though. We get primarily light rain. And it’s spread over many many days. While a significant portion of the nation has the rainiest time of the year in the summer, we have our rainiest time in the winter. Here, up north, it’s really dark, too. Seattle knows how to pile on the dreary during winter.

But even in winter, there are beautiful days. Yesterday, Christmas Day, was one of them. My husband and I walked down to the beach. The wind was gentle and the sky was blue. I spent a good bit of the walk stripped down to a short sleeved t-shirt. Granted, I had a Lupron shot last month and the furnace usually kicks in about this time but still, I was walking on a Seattle beach during winter in a t-shirt. What a glorious day.

I happen to think that the contrast between how our city looks on a sunny day versus a cloudy or rainy day is one of the reasons that we have a reputation for being a wetter city than we actually are. It’s disappointing to visit Seattle after seeing all of the glorious photos of the mountains and the sea only to be drizzled upon. But I don’t visit here. I live here. I know that the sun will come out again and that I will see it.

People in my city, especially natives, such as myself, often remark that our part of the world would not be so beautiful without the rain. This is true. We have some of the most beautiful summer weather I have ever experienced. And there is so much sunlight with very long days. Without the rainy, dreary days, though we would not have the abundant greens, the trees, bushes, mosses, and lichens. Winter is a time when plants focus their energy below the ground. The rain is essential for root growth, the foundation of plant life. Without precipitation, there is no snow on the mountains. We are so lucky to live in a city bound by two snow-capped mountain ranges. The winter snow on our mountains is also our water supply for the dry months of the year.

We need the wet and dreary days for life. It’s not just that the bad weather makes us appreciate the sunny days more because of the contrast. We actually require it. I’ve been thinking of this a lot in terms of how it relates to life, in general. Are sadness, disappointment, grief, and other painful emotions and experiences necessary for life? More so, do they enhance our lives?

I don’t know. I am pretty sure that seeking out suffering is a bad idea. Let’s not look for trouble. And denying suffering in oneself or others is invalidating. I am working a lot on acceptance of the things in my life that weigh on me heavily on a daily basis and are sometimes terrifying. Okay, it’s not “things”, it’s a thing. The thing is parenting my 16 year-old brilliant fireball. A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany followed by some meaningful adjustments in my behavior.

I realized on a deep and visceral level that I can’t protect her from the world or from the consequences of poor judgements that she makes. I didn’t abdicate responsibility but I relinquished the fantasy of control. I am still as busy parenting as I’ve ever been but my efforts are less frenzied and whirling. This acceptance was also accompanied by deep sadness. But the sadness was grounding instead of frenetic and anxious. I’m not going to kid myself and announce that acceptance is my new permanent state of being. My state of being, especially as a parent, will continue fluctuate. But this is an important shift.

I don’t know the future so I really don’t know how to end this post. What I do know is that every sunny time is to be celebrated and that the dreariest times cannot be wished away. I am learning more and more not to manufacture suffering; why would I want more of that? I am learning more and more to accept this as how life should be simply because that’s the way life is.

Christmas at the beach.

Christmas at the beach.