Pursuing the Excellent Life
July 30, 2021

Living Between the Drought and the Deluge

[Note: This essay was originally written for the Flagstaff Business News. Monsoon comes in the summer in the desert southwest of the United States. It’s a pretty amazing time.]

As I write this, we are well into the monsoon season, which for me marks the start of the transition from summer to a new academic year. It’s also my last chance to take a real vacation. My wife, Tracy and I, just returned from a wonderful week vacationing in Ireland. The only hitch was that it rained every day, which really isn’t a surprise in Ireland. In one of our pub visits Tracy remarked that we had been waiting six months for rain. An Irishman at the bar replied, “In Ireland sometimes we have to wait two hours.” (This led to a highly enjoyable two hour conversation.) Upon our return I posted to Facebook that the vacation was nice, but it was great to be home in Flagstaff. My good friend, talented musician, and keen observer of life, Ansel, replied with the following, “… Living within the drought and the deluge.” While I thought this was a pretty apt description of Flagstaff weather (leaving out snow), it struck me that this is also a pretty good description of life. 

Many of us mark our lives through significant events, births and deaths, successes and failures, joys and sorrows. But most of life occurs between these “droughts and deluges.” Sadly many of us forget this, we focus on the highs and lows and ignore the space between. Ansel’s comment started me thinking about this tendency and it’s consequences. I realized that I’m guilty of focusing too much on the highs and lows. Don’t misunderstand me, the highs and lows are important parts of life, but they’re not the only parts and they certainly don’t occupy the biggest chunks of our life. Being the reflective sort, I started thinking about my between times. I realized that some are pretty forgetful, but others are among the most enjoyable parts of my days. Most evenings, when the weather is nice, Tracy and I sit in our backyard, having drinks and watching the dogs play and the birds feed. (Fred the cat usually makes an appearance as well.) During these times, Tracy and I have a chance to catch up on our days, have a laugh or two at the pups’ antics and generally just enjoy our little family. It’s nice … no it’s more than nice, it’s wonderful. I feel the same way about my morning walks with the pups and innumerable other times between drought and deluge.

Thinking back on it, our vacation illustrated the worth of the between times. We drove all over the southern portion of Ireland, visiting a half dozen towns. We really didn’t do much in the traditional tourist sense. We viewed the countryside, walked around a lot, stopped into some pubs. Sure, we saw the requisite castle and cathedral, and they were amazing, but for both of us the between times were our favorites. Sitting on the porch of our room, watching boats in the Cork bay, striking up a conversation in a pub, stopping to listen to some music, nothing all that remarkable, but without a doubt the gems in our vacation experience. 

Sitting in the yard, chatting in a pub, walking the dogs, these are not notable events in the normal sense, but my life would be much the poorer without them. Thanks, Ansel. Your comment made me better appreciate the life that happens between the drought and the deluge, and I’m richer for it.


[To hear more about how to build quiet time into your life, check out Episode 4 of the Rational Ignorance Podcast, Tuning Out to Tune In. It’s available on major podcast players or at https://www.rationalignorancepodcast.com/tuning-out-to-tune-in/.