The next storm is somewhere out there, just waiting for its time to move onshore, disrupting my life, making me aware, once again, that life happens despite of what I might want or plan. Meteorologists, psychologists, and philosophers have their own ideas of where storms come from. Their predictions are based on a wide variety of thinking and analysis, but they all agree that the next storm is coming someday, and its path and strength will defy at least part of the experts’ forecasts.
Storms change us, often finding and exploiting our weaknesses and testing our strengths and our good intentions on being prepared. The changes often make us stronger and give us the gift of a greater understanding of who we are, and what is truly important in our lives. I can resist, I can ignore that reality, but I will still experience the storm as it moves through my life.
“Storms make trees take deeper roots,” says Dolly Parton, a person who has taken hardship and adversity to shape her talent, bringing beauty and service to the world.
“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about,” wrote Haruki Murakami.
A good storm changes my favorite places to walk to find the solitude and beauty I seek in daily life. What I had taken for granted, as solid, dependable, reliable, can be easily shifted by the strong winds, onrushing waves, and fierce currents. Like the logs and sand on the beach, storms challenge one’s foundations and assumptions of what life is all about, my “certain” expectations of where I am going.
A good storm interrupts my routines, challenging me to not take the comforts of modern day life for granted, forcing me to take detours, or just sit in the darkness for a while, experiencing the strengths and seemingly whimsical movements of the winds and rain, and the beauty and peace of the aftermath, when the sky turns blue again, when I finally realize I’ve been taught a lesson or two, and I should think about that.
I am learning to be thankful for the storms that come through my life. They wake me up, challenge me, directing me to appreciate the good things in my life. They bring change, calling me to learn some hard lessons I’ve been avoiding and to mend my ways. Taking friends and life generally for granted makes me complacent, and a good storm gives me a good shaking to my soul.
“Wake up,” the storm tells me, “Wake up and truly live your life. Don’t take your opportunities for granted.”
I can be a slow and stubborn learner and storm watcher, the lazy student. The gusty breezes and sneaker waves of a storm are wake up calls, and I need to pay attention. If I turn my back, a wave will likely come crashing in, knocking me off my feet, leaving me soaking wet, bruised, maybe even dragging me out into the deep water.
When the next storm comes, I may emerge stronger, with deeper roots and a larger understanding of who I am and where I should be going. Yet I resist. My nostalgia for the “good old days” and what life was like before this wake-up call draws me away for the lessons I learned during the storm. Life, and its storms, keep teaching me the lessons of the storm, that I need to often go inward and examine the path I’m on.
I’ve learned that I should welcome the storm, to absorb its energies, to ponder the intentions and lessons it offers me, if only I would pay attention and use the experience to challenge some of my pre-conceptions and beliefs.
Neal Lemery is a writer, gardener, photographer, and community volunteer. He lives near Tillamook and is a lifelong resident of the North Oregon Coast. His books on mentoring and community leadership are available on Amazon.