That’s a conversation I’ve had about a million times, and usually it’s with people who are associates. Not friends. You know why? Because with my friends we talk about real subjects, like love, war, and who we think is going to win American Idol this year. The weather is relatively boring unless something like a flood, a tornado, or an earthquake hits. Then we debate over who should have shown up with relief efforts and when. But only then.
Usually talk about the weather is just space filler, what you say when you don’t know what to say. Like on a first date, or on a break at work, or when stuck in an elevator with men wearing Brooks Brothers suits. It is the absolute last resort, and the problem is that everybody knows it. So when you adroitly bring up an impending rain storm be aware of the rolling eyes or what I call the “dead stare.” That’s when they’re nodding along but looking through you while you talk. It’s usually followed by “Sure,” no matter what it is you just said.
Do you blame them for spacing out? Talking about the weather is usually as dull as dishwater. But it accomplishes its purpose most of the time, to fill in the space. As human beings it becomes awkward when we’re in close proximity with someone else and there is silence. We yearn to fill that silence with something. Anything. Human contact is one of the original necessities we have and it must be nurtured, even with banalities.
I remember when I was coaching high school tennis one of the biggest thoughts I had to entertain on every single game day was about the weather. Was it going to be cloudy? Because if clouds roll in it changes the shadows on the court and wrecks havoc with how players see the ball. Was it going to rain and how much? We could play through light rain but that can also affect how the ball reacts and I had to be ready for the possible adjustment. And if a rainout was necessary I had to be right on top of the weather to make that call.
That’s when I realized that weather doesn’t have to be this boring exercise in worthless human interaction. It can honestly shift how we see things, how we interact with our world. My children are the outdoors type. They get it from their mother. My oldest got a kite for Christmas and she has been dying to fly it all winter. Now that spring is here she asks every day if she can go out and fly the kite, and we have to check how windy it is to see if it’s indeed feasible. She is so disappointed when the weather is perfect and there is no wind because she knows she won’t be able to fly the kite that day.
The weather is also the one thing we have absolutely no control over. To an extent we can control every other thing that we immerse ourselves in over the course of a day, but the weather controls us, and perhaps talking about it gives us at least control over the words that deal with weather. Words are important, even the words we don’t say while we’re talking about the weather, while we’re going through the motions.
I love weather if just that it reminds me that I am not in control. And that keeps me humble. As my old friend Paris always said when it rained, “You gotta respect what God does.” Indeed.