Those who know me know that my main hobby is meteorology and severe weather forecasting. Yet weather, in particular severe storms, has not always been my “friend”, for as a child I was deathly afraid of storms. 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 eventually out onto the patio, during a storm. As I began to spend more time watching storms the more I began to see the beauty in them.
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 when we find ourselves stressed and anxious.
Along my life’s journey I find that I am humbled in those moments when I convince myself that I have “arrived” and that life is perfect. My God, family and friends, and even the weather, have humbled me when, in hindsight, it was needed.
One of these humbling events happened a couple of summers ago when I was standing at the end of my dock when a waterspout formed a few hundred feet away. Actually, a second, smaller waterspout also formed right next to the dock pushing my wife and I against a dock piling and spraying us with water. In all my years of storm chasing that was the closest I had ever come 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 runs deep as it continues to teach me many life lessons. Here are but a few of the lessons I am beginning to learn:
- I am who I am, in this moment; the good and not so good.
- I may not be the person whom I wish to be but that is 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 to become the person I wish to be.
- I can’t take myself and life so seriously. Humor is necessary and important for mental and physical health. I need to find the humor in life, accept it, embrace it, and share it.
- I need to recall my child-like wonderment for nature. For example, to once again feel as I felt as a child when it snowed.
- Take a moment to see the nature around you. What do you see? Notice the sky, fields, flowers, road, bugs, raindrops, snowflakes…..What can they teach you?
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