Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

January 13, 2012

Rain Gauges and a Return to Basics

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 12:34 pm
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I am sitting on a terrace overlooking the Kinneret, while the sun shines on the lake after a morning of rain which followed a few days of rain.  A rain gauge is a simple tool measuring a simple yet amazing occurrence – rain.  The weather and people’s reaction to it over the past few days suggests that getting back to basics might not be such a bad thing.

Rain, for most people, is seen as an annoyance.  Of course, in flood prone areas it can be deadly, but usually, it represents for most an inconvenience.  We changed our touring plans and got respectably drenched when we didn’t.  But everywhere we went in a country besieged by drought and where water is a respected and protected natural resource the locals were delighted with the few days of rain and hopeful for months more.  Not just farmers, who you would expect would be emotionally and financially dependent on rain.  Gas station attendants, grocery check-out girls, waiters, all appreciate the rain, even though it is not near enough to erase the long-standing deficit.

As we, happy go lucky tourists, bemoan our muddy sneakers and rained-out plans, the reaction to rain prompts a reflection on how far we have come from a focus on simple tools and simple blessings, and what impact that has on our children.    We recently passed the holiday season, and in my office and the schools I visited, children catalogued the gifts they had received, most requiring electric current or internet connectivity to enjoy.  I hear frequent complaints from children whose parents will not get them the latest fashion, fad, or gadget – sometimes for economic reasons, others as a statement of principle.  And it is not just from children that I hear the give me, get me, I have to have refrain.  Adults are constantly trading in and trading up for new technology, cars, homes and endless stuff.

We have come a long way from hunter-gatherers or basic farmers, and with our advancement have come many wonderful developments.  We have technological resources that can measure our heart beats and our brain waves.  We have sophisticated tools to assess the earth’s movements and stars light years away.  I wonder and worry if wrapped in all this amazing advancement we have lost the simple appreciation of a calibrated tube filling with nourishing, life giving rain.  And if we have lost it, how can we teach it to our children?

There is one more epiphany I am having in this morning’s sunshine.  Yesterday, drenched, cold, and jet-laggingly grumpy, I complained about the rain, while surrounded by people who say without hesitation, “we would need a month of this for it to make any difference”.  It made me consider how often we make insensitive remarks that belie our good fortune in the face of others who have been less blessed.  I thought of all the petty complaints and inconveniences we gripe about, often in front of our students and children.  We rant against inflation (a very real problem, agreed) when our cupboards are full compared to those too destitute to feed their families.  We kvetch about rush hour traffic when so many are unemployed.

I know how sappy the platitudes to count one’s blessings sounds, to children as well as to adults.  But maybe we need to get back to basics with rain gauges and really measure our blessings.  Can we help our students and children understand that even small drops add up – that simple things mean a lot – that there are places in the world where what we so easily take for granted, bemoan or dismiss, can be so precious?  That could be the most important natural resource we develop for the next generation.


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