A little over a year ago, we were on another of our family adventures, having taken the long route to Germany, with stops along the way at Liberty Science center in New Jersey, Hever Castle in Kent, England, the Colosseum in Rome, a series of tunnels 40 meters under Naples, Italy, a few flights, a few train rides, and at least a hundred sets of stairs where we carried Rebecca’s wheelchair like it was a litter containing ancient royalty as onlookers made way in either deference or disbelief. On this particular day, on a whim we’d rented electric bicycles to tour the Weinstraße, a series of roads and bike-paths wending through quaint towns, vineyards, and quainter countryside in a winery-heavy region of Germany. As was so often the case for Rebecca, the chosen activity was not designed to accommodate someone in her condition, but the proprietor of the bicycle shop was a kind man. He helped us experiment with the trailers to find something that worked.
We always found a way, so long as we weren’t impeded by the small-minded enforcers of life’s unfairness. Things are only the way they are because it makes sense for most, and the most important people in the world are those who recognize when it’s time to change the rules.
That day the weather was perfect, until it wasn’t. Probably 8 miles out from any sort of cover, the weather changed and it started raining. I got to experience that rush of euphoric energy that can only come from charging fast through a downpour on a bicycle. Rebecca was safely under the trailer’s cover, and laughing – something she often did when the world seemed in a silly mood. My wife and son were making fun of me for having decisively declared (referencing some weather app) that we would have only the perfectest weather on this bike-ride. Being challenged, and reflexively ready to assume the posture of persecuted prophet, I chose to take the stance that my weather app was still correct and this was all likely some misunderstanding that we were having. I shouted through the pouring rain at them not to worry, because the app still said that skies were clear and no precipitation was in the forecast.
Soaking wet, at the next town, we found a small cafe with umbrellas, outdoor seating, and room to park Rebecca’s trailer at a table. We should trust the app, I said. We, being neither meteorologists nor app-developers, were in no position to know for sure whether it was currently raining.
As we ate lunch, the skies cleared up. I secretly adopted the same method of determining whether it was presently raining that my wife and son had been employing the whole time. There are certainly times when we can’t trust our own eyes, or the dampness of our clothing isn’t the best measure of the effects we need to monitor. But people for some reason seem to fall on one extreme or another — trusting their own experience too much or too little.