Driving through Portland late this Autumn, as my wife, daughter and I drove across Washington and Oregon from Idaho, it rained. As we pulled up to our hotel, it rained. As we unpacked our luggage, it rained. As we slept, it rained. When we awoke, it was raining. And as we went on our great adventure, it rained. In fact, it never stopped raining the entire time we were in Oregon that trip.
On our way to Multnomah Falls, as it was pouring rain, I noticed a couple walking down the sidewalk, some kids riding bikes down the street, and even as we were driving by a park where seemingly hundreds of people were lined up to start a bike race, not one person was using an umbrella!
With a sideways smirk, I pointed out to my wife, “Maybe this is how they intend to keep Portland weird, eh?”
She smiled and said, “I heard that that’s a thing here. It’s so weird.” We continued on the drive without too much further discussion.
When we arrived, we grabbed our raincoats and umbrellas and headed out into the heavy drizzle coming down and enjoyed the beauty of Multnomah Falls. It was incredible. And, finally amongst fellow tourists, others had their umbrellas out and in full use. It seemed the world had become normal, again.
When we pointed out the strange Portland umbrella phenomenon to my mother-in-law, who met us there, she said, “Oh, yeah, only tourists use umbrellas.”
My wife and I just returned today from an amazing vacation in Southern California. The forecast was 5 days of rain, with emboldened forecasters even stating that this storm may even bring the end to the California drought. Needless to say, we packed our umbrellas and drove to San Diego to enjoy sunny, 75 degree weather and clear skies, followed by a lovely overcast day at Disneyland in Anaheim, also with no rain.
Before packing up the car for the drive back this morning, I walked to the gas station a couple blocks down for some morning coffee and waters for the ride, and it started to sprinkle ever-so-softly. This wasn’t a torrential downpour, or heavy rain, or even what I would call light rain- just a heavy mist. I even had my phone out, it was so light.
But I noticed that others didn’t seem so light-hearted about it. A man jay-walked to cross over to my side of the street with his sweater pulled over his head. Another couple had long raincoats that they pulled over their heads while scurrying along. A family of four was all huddled under one umbrella on the sidewalk, trying to avoid the lovely and pleasant mist.
“Do these people know something about the rain that I don’t?” I said to my wife.
We are a product of our environment. Research proves it. Subconsciously we know it. But it’s rare to gain such a pristine point of view in two different cities in two neighboring states.
According to Sperling’s Best Places, Anaheim has 129% less rainy days and 64.2% more sunny days than Portland. In Portland, it rains over 154 days per year, with 42.8 inches per year, while in Anaheim, it rains only 33 days per year with 13.9 inches of rain per year- quite an enormous disparity.
If it’s raining and you live in Portland and are waiting to do something until the rain stops, you’d be waiting a VERY long time. In contrast, if it’s raining and you live in Anaheim, and are waiting to do something until the rain stops, any time of year, you would have to wait a day or two at most before the sunshine returns.
Folks from Anaheim have learned that rain is a rare nuisance to be avoided at all costs. Portlandiers, on the other hand, have learned to not let rain stop them… ever. In fact, Portlandiers show their resilience to the rain so harshly, that culturally they’ve identified themselves as people who don’t even use umbrellas.
I’ve felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders and felt like I was getting crushed. I’ve lost jobs, friends, money- the full gauntlet. I’ve felt broken and like my life is irreparable from mistakes that I’ve made. I’ve lived too many days at the lowest lows, then gone lower.
But I’ve made it through. I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off. I’ve persevered. I’ve survived. I’ve thrived.
Now, when the weather of life changes and problems start to rain down on me, I fight through the adversity with resilience. I’ll never need an umbrella, again. I’m ready to go out in the rain.