I have lived in many different states during my life, but there is always one thing that I will miss about California. When I think back on my days there I don’t instantly go to the beach or the mountains, not the hot days or the crazy places, it is the rain. I spent so many hours in libraries there growing up and finding my chair in the corner and reading a book while it rained outside.
n. the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.
This article is going to jump a bit, but it has gaming and motivation again that you can enjoy. If you want to jump straight to the motivation go past the following picture.
Now it rains in Nebraska, but it is far from a gentle thunderstorm. Not long ago I lost a lot of my property to a bad rain here that flooded out many people from their homes and jobs. It is hard to feel “tranquility” when you are screaming for the rain to please stop. It goes in hand with places like Kansas where the storms oftentimes held tornados and you had to hide in the basement for them to pass. Even my last week of high school had a huge tornado nearby that led us to the basement. I remember thinking, “Really I can’t even get to college first?” It wasn’t a calming experience.
Back to California. Growing up I loved being able to sneak away to a place like a book store and delve into a fantasy novel. I remember reading my way through all of the Legend of Drizzt books and gaining a passion for DND that has lasted me to adulthood. Or being able to find a book that is dusty and you get to be the first to crack it open for who knows how long. The worlds you found were your own at that moment, with libraries being a second home.
In games, I loved the moments where I heard the rain and paused what I was playing to step outside and see the rain gently coming down. At the time it was probably Kingdom Hearts or Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, but I would also stop and listen for a minute and have that sense of calm wash over me. I think the final hours of Resident Evil 4 are even calm to me now as I beat those hours with a gentle rain in the background. Other than the Regenerators, there was ZERO calm to those guys.
It may be part of the reason why in games I tend to be a bit of a snob for rain effects now. I even had a long ongoing joke with a friend over the Witcher 3 when I played and rain came through the building I was in. Later that day I played Minecraft and found it didn’t do that glitch in that title. This led to a running gag that Minecraft was better designed. Do I genuinely believe that? Well, I like my rain.
Sometimes rain can just add that needed element to a title. Breath of the Wild still has some of the best storms I’ve seen in a video game. Heavy Rain and I emphasize this, is in fact not just about rain. Do not play that game if you want a tranquil moment, you will not look at handsaws the same again.
All jokes aside I did want to take this back to some of the motivation that I like to do. I bring up this sweet new word so that you can understand what this feeling does for me. When I am not feeling it and am just off I can zone out and put some storm sounds on noise-canceling headphones. I can use my headspace and feel like I am back in my favorite library in Sacramento, or in that book shop, I loved in Redmond.
Josh Waitzkin writes heavily on finding your “zone” and getting to that place before large moments. In learning or training in any sense finding that zone and area of expertise can be the difference between a productive afternoon and a wasted one. There are moments I can’t put a single word down for writing and then I get some headphones on and I get to it after about five minutes. Five minutes in that space I made and I get there.
Find your area of amniotic tranquility from something. If you are on vacation and you find a place you groove to, write it down! There are so many audio files and ways to listen to get you back to there. Micheal Phelps used Lose Yourself from 8 Mile, yours can be bird whistles for all it matters. If you can’t think, take some time and try to find what calms you the most. From that place of zen and calm, you can explode outwards and do some great things.
Until then I am going to let the thunder roll and keep on writing.