As I write this reflection more than half of the USA is covered in snow, the most coverage at one time in the past 10 years! Where I live it has snowed the past couple days, somewhat of a rarity for my area.
Those who have followed my posts will know that my main hobby is meteorology and severe weather forecasting. Weather, in particular severe storms, has not always been my “friend”. As a child I was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. I know that many children are afraid of storms, but for me it seemed to be a fear greater than the fear felt by my friends Why? I really can’t say. It’s not as if I was ever taken up in a twister or struck by lightning. But for me, in my perspective (reality), every time there was a thunderstorm I was convinced it would produce a tornado that would drop directly on my house. And I didn’t even grow up in tornado alley! So, how did I go from fearing storms to making storm forecasting and storm chasing my hobby?
The process of conversion, for me, was a gradual one. At some point I realized that maybe if I learned more about the weather it would no longer scare me. Maybe knowledge would “protect” me. To some degree that was true. The more I learned about climatology and meteorology the more I learned that not every thunderstorm would drop a tornado on my head. The more I learned about the dynamics of our atmosphere the greater my courage was to venture to the window, and later to the patio, during a storm. As I began to frequently spend time watching storms the more I began to see the beauty in them. I took this picture a couple of years ago near my house:
There are many aspects of the weather from which we could learn and reflect. As I reflect on past storms and blizzards I have experienced, the topic which comes to the forefront of my mind is the virtue of humility.
Humility comes from the Latin, loosely translated as “grounded” or “from the earth”. The concept addresses one’s intrinsic self-worth. A self-worth in each of us as a worthy person in and of ourselves. Do we feel this to be true? Do I honestly feel that I am a worthwhile person, at this very moment, as I currently am, complete with my flaws? Not many of us do, but in true humility it is important for us to gain the ability to recognize our worth as the person we currently are. I am not saying we are perfect, but that even in our imperfections we are a worthwhile person. It is when we try to be more important, or different from, who we truly are we find ourselves stressed and anxious.
Along my life’s journey it is in those moments when I convince myself that I have “arrived” and life is perfect when I am humbled. Nature, expressed in weather, has a tendency to do that to me.
In this picture, taken 6 or so years ago near my house, I was humbled to think that if this were a tornado it had the power to change my life in an instant (irregardless of its appearance, this is not a tornado, rather a strong downburst. But, this same storm did produce a tornado only a few miles away from this scene about 20 minutes later).
I was also humbled a couple of summers ago when I experienced this waterspout forming just off my dock at my house. Actually, a second, smaller waterspout formed next to the dock as this picture was taken, pushing us against a piling and spraying us with water. In all my years of storm chasing that was the closest I came to an actual “incident” happening (had that second waterspout been stronger it would have blown us into the turbulent water):
My love and respect of the weather, and nature, runs deep. It continues to teach me many life lessons, especially the lesson of humility. I need to always remember there is something greater than myself out there. Not that nature is out to get me, just the reality that nature is what it is (more powerful than I), and I am what I am; a worthwhile human person, smaller than the climate surrounding me.
Weather teaches us many life-lessons. Here are but a few I have learned:
- I am who I am, at this moment; the good and not so good.
- I may not be the person whom I wish to be; that’s ok because who I am today does not mean that is who I will be tomorrow. I can make changes in my thoughts and behaviors.
- Don’t take yourself and life so seriously. Humor is necessary and important for our mental and physical health. Find the humor in life, accept it, embrace it, and share it.
- Recall your child-like wonderment for nature. Recall how you used to feel as a child when it snowed. Feel that again!
- Take a moment to see the nature around you. What do you see? Do you notice the sky, field, flower, road, bug, raindrop, snowflake…..What do they teach you?