April Showers and the Blue Bird of Happiness

In yesterday’s posting, I mentioned that I am a Lark – an “early bird” – but not one of the “rise and shine” variety.  It takes me a little time – and some coffee – to get my happy going in the morning.  This is true today, and it was even more so during my teen years, when I was at my most “owlish” point.  That meant that my Dad, also a Lark, had a considerable advantage over me in the “wakey, wakey” arena during those years.  And, boy, did he ever take advantage of that to get a few laughs!

We’ll skiVioletp over his many jovial comments about my electric hair curlers attempting to contact alien beings, and move right on to his favorite cheery greeting:

“It isn’t raining rain, you know;
It’s raining violets.”

 Dad was born in the ‘30s, came up in the ‘40s, and came of age in the ‘50s – he’s a Big Band / crooner kinda guy.  I’m a ‘60s-‘70s gal with a preference for the folk genre; I was clueless that he was quoting from the popular and recorded-by-many-artists song, “April Showers.”

And swoosh… although the number of times he said it is beyond counting, the point he was trying to make flew over my head.  It’s unlikely that, in my early-morning-cranky-teenager state, any approach could have aroused my curiosity as to the why of his choice of greeting, but whatever slim possibility there might have been was certainly dashed by the fact that his next line inevitably began a long recitation from Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales …

 “WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote…”
[“When fair April with his showers sweet…”]

Yep, a complete recitation in Old (or is that Middle?) English, along with a reminder that back in his day, high school students were expected to memorize things!  I rolled my eyes and replied with something that meant, “Dad, give me a break.” And I missed the point entirely for many years.

But the repetition stuck.  I didn’t forget the violets, and eventually I was ready to hear the lesson.  And today, as the April shower fell outside my office window, I was reminded that

Life is not a highway strewn with flowers
Still it holds a goodly share of bliss
When the sun gives way to April showers
Here is the point you should never miss

Though April showers may come your way
They bring the flowers that bloom in May
So when it’s raining, have no regrets
Because it isn’t raining rain, you know
It’s raining violets

And when you see clouds upon a hill
You know they’ll bring crowds of daffodils
So just keep looking for a blue bird
And listening for his song
Whenever April showers come along
       — Louis Silvers

No one has ever called me an optimist, and every once in a while my husband lets me know that he thinks I’ve moved too far into the pessimistic end of the spectrum.  But I think of myself as a realist.  I know that we don’t live in a safe world, and I know that, despite what I once tried very hard to believe, purity provides no protection.  Bad things – sometimes very bad things – happen to good people all the time.  So, my modus operandi is to always try to prepare for the worst – and then hope for the best.

Mountain_BluebirdBut I also believe that even a realist can choose to take a long-term positive view, and that doing so is a key to happiness.  None of us will ever be perfect, and all of us will experience ups and downs in life.  It can’t be denied that, as Longfellow said on one cold, dark, dreary day, “into each life some rain must fall.”  But we can remind ourselves, as he did, that while it is “the common fate of all” to experience the down times, “behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”  Yes, I know it’s cliché, but it is true that without the rain, there can be no life or growth.  And even during the storm, the silver linings appear, and we can choose to look for them. As Joseph Campbell exhorted, we can choose to follow the bliss, because

“It isn’t raining rain, you know; It’s raining violets.”

Look beyond the rain to see the daffodils and violets, and find the bluebird of happiness.  You’ll be glad you did.


Mel Torme sings “April Showers” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWWVGyxvSCk

April Showers lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publishing
“The Rainy Day” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Violets and bluebird photos by Wikimedia Commons
“April Showers at last” – photo by Kris H. on flickr

april showers


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