Some of my songs have a creation story. Some just come to life and I can’t remember quite how. My first song, a14-year-old’s attempt to write music for a friend’s poem about friendship, did have a story: a poem written on pale pink paper, love for my friend, and a song that wasn’t very good. I’m not sure what sparked the idea for “Dancing in the Rain,” but I love the joy of expressing more of who I am and what I feel than in my less artistic first attempt.
Joy of Choice
Although I don’t remember the context that brought forth “Dancing in the Rain,” I definitely remember the concept of it. As I wrote about being positive in hard times, maybe hard things were happening and I was trying to convince myself to be positive. I don’t remember thinking about a specific loved friend, but I do know that I wrote the song using a spiral notebook, not pale pink paper. Due, perhaps, to maturity, not to lack of joy.
“Dancing in the Rain” is a song of joy. I love the message with the reminder that it is possible to choose happy in the midst of hard. Make no mistake, while happy is a choice, it often isn’t an easy one. If I were to guess my ratio for choosing to find happiness when my heart was breaking, I’d guess I’m about—actually, let’s just say I have work to do.
If I think of happiness in terms of always having a smile on my face, looking on the bright side of everything, and constantly being in a state of contentment and good spirits, it feels hard but doable to keep this kind of control.
Joy of Perspectives
A choice of happiness may become easier, and often more meaningful, when a choice of perspective is involved. For example, I may think beyond my smile or my contented state and think of joy as being loving, compassionate, and true—a giver of joy and healer of sorrow. I would want the happiness of others as my wish, my compass, and my goal.
Or I might focus on the joy of a new tomorrow. I welcome each tomorrow as a time for seeking joy, reaching for good, and looking for the happy things in life. But can I stay on a path like this?
As Brad Wilcox likes to say, “Worthiness is not flawlessness.” I like to think of making worthy choices, not of a flawless record of keeping up with them.
Joy of Living
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared his view of happiness as choice of a life perspective, not a series of reactions to a series of circumstances. His was a joy of life for life.
Learn as quickly as you can that so much of your happiness is in your hands, not in events or circumstances or fortune or misfortune. We have choice, we have volition, we have agency, and we can choose if not happiness per se then we can choose to live after the manner of it.
Elder Holland illustrated with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had much to be unhappy about, in the most difficult administration a President of the United States has ever faced, but even he reflected that “folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Happiness comes first by what comes into your head a long time before it comes into your hand” (“Living After the Manner of Happiness,” BYU Idaho Devotional, 2014 ).
Dancing in the rain can and should come into your head more spontaneously than into the hand that reaches for your umbrella (if you intend to use one). I tend to think of the joy of the raining dance more figuratively than literally, though literally can be fun too.
If you are beginning to sigh as the gray sky and the rain on the roof seem about as bright as the current difficulties in your life, maybe your mind needs to break out your slicker and your polka dot umbrella (or your plain black one). You may even exclaim as your busy hands follow, “Here we go, the joy of rain trio —Jeff Holland, Abe Lincoln, and me!”
(Link for song “Dancing in the Rain”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW9dBT9k28o&t=148s)