Column, Living the Dream

How can I love the rain?

By Merisa Sherman

My eyes are closed and my thick comforter is wrapped around my body so tightly I can’t tell when the bed begins and I end. It’s so warm and cozy, I feel like a sleepy old bear trapped deeply in my hibernation cave. The space is almost like a vacuum, and you can feel the air being pulled with each breath. Nothing but blankets and pillow and me … and the pitter patter of the raindrops on the insulated metal roof.

The noise is almost deafening, but somehow it doesn’t bother me at all. Each of the million raindrops that falls on my standing seam roof makes its mark — and leaves an echo in its wake. It’s like an orchestra of raindrops pounding on my ceiling, creating a symphony all their own that somehow is so powerful that it overwhelms my senses.

Just like my childhood bedroom, I am tucked away into the eaves. Or, more accurately, into the trusses. I can reach my hand out and touch the inside of the roof but I can’t touch the rain. I know it’s out there; I can hear it. I can feel the force of the droplets as I press against the ceiling. The rain itself is wrapping around my shelter and I feel almost like I am under the ocean.

And I am comforted. Between the blankets and the rain, it’s almost like I have returned to the womb and I am perfectly content to be nowhere else but here. It’s calming. It’s luxurious. I feel like my soul is catching up with itself somehow. And sleep. Oh my goodness am I so far behind on sleep this winter. I just cannot seem to get enough and the lack of snow has been simply appalling. And now outside all the snow is melting.

Wait. What? I am so captivated by the rain I forget about what was really happening outside. I don’t understand how I can be a ski bum and still enjoy the beauty of a sad, depressing and totally miserable rainy day in March. I can hear how much rain there is outside, I know the damage that it is causing and how hard the groomers are working to save as much snow as they possibly can. If I let myself think outside of my warm and cozy cocoon, I know that my ski season is taking a super big hit. I’m a ski bum. Why am I not a big anxious mess over a word that most skiers even forbid being said? How can I love the [email protected]!n?

But it’s not my fault. It’s science. The sound of rain is scientifically proven to relax the human brain on many levels. First of all, the rain itself lets off negative ions. Just like a trip to an ocean or waterfall, multiple theories suggest that negative ions increase serotonin levels to boost our mood and energy, alleviate depression and provide stress-relief. No wonder we have so much fun skiing in the rain — our nervous systems are happier and more relaxed from all the negative ions floating about and being released with the movement of water.

And it’s not just the negative ions — the overwhelming sounds from the rain block out the louder sounds that cause abrupt shocks to our nervous system. For the most part, studies show that rain works as “pink noise” and allows your overactive brain to finally relax and produce alpha waves. And as your brain relaxes, your creativity grows — ever wonder why you come up with your absolutely best ideas in the shower? All that relaxation has researchers theorizing that pink noise might help prevent memory loss.

But my favorite part of rain? The shinshin (pronounced “Sheensheen”). Shinshin is Japanese onomatopoeia for the absence of noise where there was noise before. Which is exactly what happens when the rain on your roof turns to snow. And that, my friends, is the absolutely best part of rain. Lying there, in your bed, listening as the heavy raindrops become lighter and lighter until you cannot hear them at all. The rain has stopped but you can feel that the precipitation has not.

As the newly formed snowflakes begin to fall, they absorb all the noise that has come before. The solid drops of rain now become porous six-sided snowflakes. What once created sound, now absorbs it. Anywhere from 50% to 90% of it, actually, depending on the style of the snowflake. Now I don’t have to question why it is that snow makes me happy, that’s something that I’ve known the answer to for my entire life. All that rainy day relaxation has stored up a bunch of energy and this ski bum is going skiing.

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