Silver Linings

During yesterday’s hike, it rained on us. Cold rain. Fortunately, we had our rain gear with us, and we knew that the rain was coming – just couldn’t hike fast enough to beat it (and if we had, it would have rained on us as we rode the motorcycle.)

Even taking the rain into account, it was a fabulous hike. We traveled though a variety of environments, ate lunch sitting next to a beautiful alpine lake, and met a delightful gentleman enjoying his vacation.

The rain only lasted for a few minutes, and it highlighted the beauty in the environment we were hiking through. There is a large swath of land that was burnt down some years ago. We were passing through a section of that burn. The trees are nothing but blackened poles and many have fallen to the ground. The undergrowth is mostly small bushes and new pines, little is more than a couple of feet tall. The boulders are the highlights of the hike, great white and swirled gray mounds resting on the ground.

As the clouds overtook us, though, and the sun was hidden, the landscape changed. The variation of the light made everything richer, more vibrant. The colors were saturated. What had been off-white and dark gray trees turned into pillars that included colors like silver, white, shiny ebony black, buttery gold, iron red, and everything in between. The dark stems of the undergrowth almost glowed with a maroon hue, contrasted with their emerald leaves. The world took on nuances of color that we would have otherwise missed.

We had plenty of warning that the rain was coming, so we were ready to stop and put on our rain gear once it started. While doing so I spotted wild raspberries growing along the trail – a favorite treat. Ashley saw a double-rainbow that looked like it was just down at the bottom of the hill. Never have we been so close to a rainbow, much less two of them. They were perfectly formed, the bottom one very clear – we could distinctly see each of the individual colors.

The rainbows didn’t last long. Nor did the rain. We snacked on freshly washed raspberries straight from the bush while making our way down the trail. Before reaching the end the sun was shining again, the rainbows were gone, and the motorcycle had pretty well dried off. The hillside had hidden its vibrant colors once more, returning to muted, almost dusty shades of green, gray and brown. But we know the truth. Hidden in there, brought out by rain clouds and their accompanying rain, is a whole range of vibrant colors and even a rainbow or two.

The value of hindsight

It’s easy to talk about silver linings, the delights that a raincloud can bring, in the literal sense. Harder to see are the silver linings that come about in our lives, in the figurative sense. If we get wet in a bit of rain it might be chilly for a few minutes, or take us some time to dry out, but that’s just part of the experience. The rain clouds in our lives touch us more deeply. It takes longer to recover from a loved one lost than to dry our dampened clothes. Yet, the blessings that we receive, the clouds’ linings, can be that much richer.

This came up on a recent hike. Ashley and I were reflecting on how different our lives would be today if they hadn’t been touched by tragedy in the past.

Relationship foundations

One of the inspirations for this adventure was Ashley’s dad. He had great plans for his retirement (including exploring the country in an RV) and didn’t get to live them out after battling cancer. He is missed greatly, yet without his tragic passing, our lives would be nothing like they are today.

Ashley’s oldest sister was able to come and work locally for a few months to be near him. She and I were old friends and spent time together while she was in town. That lead to me spending time with Ashley and up to where we are today. Without him being sick, Ashley and I would not have run into each other and wouldn’t be married! None of our adventures together would have happened.

(Likewise, our beloved Jim wouldn’t have been able to enter the picture.)

Marriage passion

Though I have a solid foundation of a happy childhood, my parents went through a nasty divorce when I was a young teen. That experience taught me that I would never go through something similar. Having seen both sides of what a family can be like – happy and supportive or crumbling and broken – I know what I want and what to avoid. This experience is one that has lead up to my passion for strong marriages. Sticky-note Love, Ready-to-go Dates, and my other writings about marriage and romance are part of how I fight for strong marriages.

I’ve learned from my mistakes and others’ errors and strive to ensure that Ashley and I have a long and happy marriage. Continual reading and researching help me to have a strong base of knowledge toward that goal. I will continue to fight for our fabulous marriage and help others do the same for theirs. A passion which wouldn’t be as strong if I hadn’t seen what the other side looks like.

Other positives

We came up with more examples in our lives. The upsides from a broken back, youthful stupidity, other cancer victims, broken motorcycles and more. Not every negative event seems to have a silver lining (maybe we just aren’t yet far enough removed to see it) but so many of them do. And the effect of the positive seems to be in direct correlation to the hurt of the negative.

It’s easy to say “look for the positives” or “this happens for a reason”, but that isn’t the purpose I have in mind. I merely intend to share some of our trail musings – to try and convey some of the wonder that we felt at realizing how deeply different events have affected our lives, in ways we would have never expected. We didn’t, couldn’t, see it at the time, however. It took hindsight, distance, to see the ripples that occur from the events that take place in our lives.

Clouds don’t have to be bad

Of course, silver linings always seems to convey the idea that clouds are a bad thing. As with our rain clouds yesterday, they were not negative. The change they brought to the light really highlighted the colors in the world around us. The raspberries were freshly washed. What started out as a hot day ended up being delightfully cool as we wrapped up our hike. With our rain gear on, the few minutes of water falling on us was not a bad thing, it was just a part of the experience.

Everything causes ripples. We are greatly enjoying our lives as we travel in our new home, exploring. This experience will affect the rest of our lives in ways that we cannot imagine. Perhaps it will help us launch our next career, one that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Maybe we’ll find the perfect place for us to settle down. Who knows, we could stumble across a hidden treasure!

The silver linings of this adventure will, as they have been in past experiences, be in proportion to the inputs. They will be huge, stunning us in the effects on our lives. And while we can point to some immediate benefits, the true changes have yet to be seen.

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