When a storm is just a storm.


We're through the storm now, and no worse the wear for it. While the creek next to us swelled and the winds gusted through, we were tucked inside watching it all pass, as if it were a grand play put on for our awe and amusement.

This is why people say they like storms, I think, as a way to feel the world moving around them. Some people like disaster, to know their own insignificance in the face of some detached, uncontrollable entity. There is a superstitious part of me that wants to believe that, but moreover I side with Lucretius: on the level of matter, we are all the same, all connected. Storms show us how integral we are in the grand scheme of the universe, especially if our actions increase the frequency and intensity of those storms.

I grew up here on the coast and storms are a part of the deal. Storms brought balance or change in return for weathering them. We'll laugh about that time my mom made me sit in the closet with her as the winds picked up around us, or when we had to eat beans on toast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days on end after the power went out.

However, comedy is not the same as triviality. It annoys me when people don't take hurricanes seriously, especially those who dismiss them because they're used to them. Over the years, those many hurricanes have made me more wary, not less. I've seen what they can do. I know to beware and be cautious at the end of the day.

In fact, this reminds me of a common joke we used to bat around about a man who, during a hurricane, believed so much in the prospect of direct divine help that he refused the earthly help sent his way and drowned in the rising floodwaters. The punchline was that the earthly help was indirectly divine, a gift in the form of a raft, canoe, and boat, if he had only but seen it. That's always the punchline, isn't it? We can't always know the intent of the heavens or even of other people. That's why we tell stories, and it's why we try to know our world in other ways. A storm is just a storm, but we can choose how we respond to it.

So here again we are all fine, friends and relatives, as we usually are and I hope always will be.