As a little boy, I always hated stormy weather. It was grey and dull and dampened my spirit. Being an active child, I loved playing outside. Storms didn't allow me to do that. I never liked doing nothing. Back then boredom was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. In my very young, boyish mind storms became my deadly enemy.
Today, 72 years later, another stormy day has made its presence known. I don't hate storms now the way my younger self used to. I'm seated comfortably in my favorite armchair by the fireplace in our cozy living room. It's very cold - so cold that my teeth can't stop chattering and my body won't stop shivering even though I'm wearing a sweater and a jacket. Sitting by the fire cures my discomfort.
As I sit there staring into the fire, I'm listening to the violent storm. It's as if some crazed God is venting out his rage on the poor, nurturing Earth. The sky is so dark and foreboding even though it's just after 2 p.m and lunch was over a while ago.
Continuous flashes of lightning illuminate the gloomy darkness momentarily each time. An ear-splitting vibrational echo of thunder immediately follows its electric companion. The thunder hits the ground hard as if a great whip cracks the Earth punishing her for sins unknown to humankind. The oceans of heaven seem to be pouring down on Earth as the sky sheds infinite tears in the form of rain. My home is safe but my thoughts go out to those who have to suffer floods. When the heavens stop raging I'll go out and see what I can do for those people, I thought sympathetically.
There was nothing to do except sit there and listen. It was difficult to ignore the storm. It insisted on being noticed. Yet once we are used to it, it just becomes something in the background. In that moment thoughts start to dominate the mind more than usual.
Sitting and watching the fire with the storm for background music provided a nice setting for my mind to wander and random thoughts to appear. This usually happens to me on days like these when there's nothing else to do.
At a time like this my thoughts usually drift away to reflections of my life or fond memories. Today my mind seemed to be dominated by storms. Not surprising at all given the weather. I find myself thinking about my childhood days. It was so long ago in the past, yet I can still remember clearly what we did on stormy days back then.
The comforting heat of the fire contrasted with the rhythmic chaos of the storm causes me to reach a state of inertia. I close my eyes and my thoughts drift more to the stormy days of my childhood.
I'm not just thinking about it as a fond memory. I'm really there, in that time. Living my boyhood days again. This is my huge secret. An extraordinary ability. Unknown even to my wife who is my closest confidant. I am my 9-year-old self again.
Feelings of frustration and boredom wash over me as I stand by the window looking out at what looked like a scene from hell to a kid.
The wind was tearing the life out of the trees and the rain bathed the windows more than it needed to. I experienced everything with all my senses just as it happened those years ago.
In an instant my reality changed from that of an old man, sitting on my armchair, thinking about my childhood while snoozing by the warm fire, to the young boy looking at the violent storm through the window.
This was my special ability. For as long as I can remember, I could turn any moment I wanted into reality. I don't know exactly when I discovered this but it was around my early teen years I think. It was a shock to me at first. I was confused and didn't know what was going on.
Once I realized and understood it more, through experimenting, I started to use my ability to re-live my most fun and happy memories. If I missed someone or a past activity all I had to do was think about it. When I was completely focused on the memory and wanted to make it real again it would happen. Just like that. I was so thrilled. I thought it's so cool to be able to do that.
So there I was now, re-living a stormy day many years ago as a young kid. A look of boredom, frustration and impatience chased each other on my young face. I stared out at the storm through a cold, misty window. Fog spread around as if protecting everything from the storm in the same way snow does. On days like these no one could go out.
My father sat in his favorite armchair by the fire, just as my old self does now. He was reading the newspaper as usual. Never completely absorbed in it, he joined our conversations too if he felt the need to say something or if mother demanded a response from him.
Mother liked baking cookies on a day like this. Some of my fondest memories are of delicious-smelling cookies from a warm, welcoming kitchen. My three older sisters would help her sometimes. They were so different from each other that you wouldn't be able to tell they are sisters if you didn't know them personally.
The oldest was like mother. She was kind and welcoming; always loved things to be in their proper place. She was also strict with me when necessary. My second sister was noisy and funny. She always made me laugh and cheered me up when I was upset or in a bad mood. My youngest sister was most like me, I think. She liked the outdoors and she was playful and light-hearted. She played with me often and was my playmate until she became a teenage girl.
Despite my gloomy mood I smiled as I watched them all in the kitchen, busy helping our mother. Each of them brought their own personality into the mix, making it an enriching experience to watch them or spend time with them. Sometimes it seemed as if their presence alone was louder than any storm. Meal times were some of our best moments too. The atmosphere was always warm and lively accompanied by lots of delicious food.
Mother never failed to make sure we all ate well. While watching them, my ruined mood slowly disappeared. Their energy absorbed it all away like sunlight penetrating into shadowy places and lighting it up. I felt happy and thankful for the family I was blessed to be born into.
On stormy days when everyone was together, there would always be treats like cookies or cakes after lunch. After cleaning up, the whole family would play games or tell stories. Doing these things together as a family always made me forget my frustration. They taught me that I could also have fun indoors when I couldn't play outside.
As my thoughts of that special time ended, I came back to my true reality. It always felt as if I'd been away somewhere and just got back home. I felt privileged to be able to re-live the fondest memories of my past like that. As always my wife, children and grandchildren thought I was spaced out and daydreaming again or that I dozed off by the warmth of the fire. They associated this kind of thing with old age. Only I knew that it wasn't a daydream and it wasn't old age. It was part of my reality.
Whenever I miss my parents or siblings or the things of the past, I could just go and be there again, even if only for a few treasured moments. These experiences made me appreciate life and my loved ones more. If I could share this ability with others, I would.