Rain Brain


One of my favorite Shakespeare lines about rain is from Merchant of Venice, when Portia compares it to mercy:

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed.
It blesseth him that gives
and him that takes.

That quote says everything you feel like you’ve experienced when you’ve experienced the sensation of the good rain. It strikes the right chord. It’s this cleansing and redemptive and celestial sort of thing. It’s a bit beyond your control and it takes catching it and being touched by it to be blessed by it. It freshens the soul and quickens the mind and wipes clean the mortal dirt off your face.

Sometimes the rain is bad. Sometimes the rain won’t stop and the world floods and you die or sometime the rain and the clouds that come with it gobble up the sun and make us sad and dreary and the world is dark forever and ever always.

My favorite “rain” thing is more in this negative connotation.

Stephen Fry has suffered from manic depression his whole life and in 2006 he released a documentary about it. After the film came out he received a letter from a fan named Crystal who was suffering the swings in moods he had described.

Fry replied with a long and wonderful letter which you can read in full at Letter of Note, but the relevant bit is this:

I’ve found that it’s of some help to think of one’s moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather:

Here are some obvious things about the weather:

It’s real.

You can’t change it by wishing it away.

If it’s dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can’t alter it.

It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.


It will be sunny one day.

It isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.

One day.

It really is the same with one’s moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness – these are as real as the weather – AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE’S CONTROL. Not one’s fault.


They will pass: they really will.

That’s one of the main facts about rain: like its cousin the tide, it comes and goes. 

The good and the bad are both always coming and the best you can do is while experiencing them to keep that in mind. They’re temporary and fleeting and you should plan accordingly. 

When you tell the rain to go away, you do not need to remind it that it can come again another day. It is going to come again. That’s its thing.

And if it didn’t, if you tilled the ground so poorly that you created a dust bowl situation, you would miss out on its blessings and feel very stupid, which is exactly what happened on this day in 1934.