Dancing in the rain – by Helen May


helen-may-1114-150x150A few years ago, I did some charity work in a Ghanaian village. To show their appreciation, the villages put on entertainment for the volunteers. On Sunday it was a game of football. One evening, they taught us all their local games – some requiring mental agility, some requiring physical agility and some requiring trust. One evening, they put on a dance and music night.

As the guests of honour we were seated under some plastic awnings when the heavens opened. We could just hear the band practising behind us over the sound of the pounding rain. The “dance floor” was turning into a muddy mire. If you listened carefully, as well as the “drip drip drip”, there was an embarrassed murmur: What were we going to do? The entertainment was over. The weather was terrible. The villagers were drenched.

Suddenly, one of the volunteers emerged from the awnings onto the dance floor. He was swaying to the sound of the band. Then his feet started to move. Gradually, the villagers came out to join him. Another volunteer joined in. Then more villagers. Then, we realised, there was no one under the awning. We were drenched, we were barefoot feeling the squelch of the mud between our toes. We were all laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. The rain was pouring down our faces mixing with our tears of joy. That evening was one of the biggest highlight of the trip.

I remembered that night when I saw a motto in a shop window: “Don’t live your life waiting for the storm to pass: live it dancing in the rain.”

There are days when I get fed up with diabetes. I get fed up with testing, injecting, hypo-ing, not sleeping because of a hyper, hiding another injection bruise, explaining that I ‘can’ eat cake, going to another hospital/doctors/opticians appointment… Sometimes, I wish someone found a cure for diabetes and I could stop worrying about neuropathy and kidney infection and retinopathy.

Then I realise that day will probably not come in my lifetime so there’s no point waiting for my diabetes storm to pass. I need to get on with enjoying the life I have rather than waiting to live another life. I would love to be an artist but I can’t draw (anyone who has played Pictionary with me will confirm this), so there’s no point sitting around waiting for someone to develop an Idiot’s Drawing App. I need to make the most of what I have got and what I can do.

So, I kick off my shoes and start, metaphorically, dancing. The rain could be metaphorical but sometimes it’s real: I have walked up mountains in real rain and enjoyed it; I have camped in the rain and enjoyed it (retrospectively); and I have cycled in the rain and laughed as the water dripped off my nose.

Most of the time, I see diabetes as a small inconvenience (more of a short shower than a storm), but when I feel it getting me down, I look for something to enjoy in the rain. It does not have to be outside and it does not have to be exercise. It could be savouring a salted caramel chocolate, a glass of Portuguese Douro wine or laughing with my friends. Or all three at the same time.

I’m not going to get a mug or fridge magnet or desktop for my laptop with “Don’t live your life waiting for the storm to pass: live it dancing in the rain” written on it. I’m going to live my life by another motto: “Action speak louder than words.” Tango, anyone?

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