It’s windy out this afternoon, and the sky has turned grey. The bay is pounding the rocks and has become choppy enough to keep most watermen ashore. Just to the southeast about 120 nautical miles, storm surge and high tides continue to lash out at Kitty Hawk and Jockey’s Ridge, and just a few fathoms from there Hurricane Dorian has imposed her destructive ambitions along the southeast coast. This far north on the Chesapeake will be spared this time, though by this time tomorrow, the high tides combined with tropical force winds and torrential rain will make for a tense afternoon.
But this is life. This is primetime for those who live this close to the water. That’s just the way it is. For me, though, being out there, feeling the wind and rain, close to the currents as the waves come ashore, is, well, exhilarating. I’m not ignorant to the dangers—just the opposite; I’ve been around hurricanes the better part of my life. It’s just that when it is bad, but not that bad, it is good to be outside, touching life with wet hands, feeling the energy in the pounding surf.
Hang in there. I’m not out of my mind.
Van Gogh wrote, “There is peace even in the storm.” I understand that. When it rains hard, or the wind is fierce and I can hear branches snap, as long as I am safe it all simply reminds me that I am alive to experience this weather, this turn of currents, this atmospheric screwball, and I feel somehow calmer and even more alive. Of course I love the perfect weather, the calm day with low humidity and pleasant sunshine. But equally, to experience the rain on my face, getting drenched, reaching out and being a part of the earth and nature instead of it simply being something “around” me or something “outside” or on the news, floods my senses and elevates my awareness to keep everything else in perspective. For those of us who spend so much time in nature, it is the next natural digression.
So when severe weather arrives, we shift our thoughts to survival mode and pray no one gets hurt and our property is spared, and above all else that we come out of it alive. And when some system swirls off the African coast and creeps its way up the Saffir-Simpson Scale, it throws our lives into a whirlwind of measuring value and understanding perspective to “finally” discover what is essential in our lives, in our hearts. Hell, just a little rain should do the same thing, shouldn’t it? When impending storms send everyone into “I’m just glad for what I have” mode, I understand with absolute clarity how the mundane repetition of everyday life induces coma-like observation of life around us and our place in the world, our brief and expedient place in the world.
The tragedy of life is its persistent subtlety. Days pass without notice; I forgot what day of the week it is; geez, is it Sunday already?
Life changes like the weather, and the weather is constantly changing, and so are we. The storm will pass, of course, as does time. And while it is tragically true that in the wake of this treacherous weather too many poor souls have been lost, far too many lives have been crushed, the reality of this whirlwind life we live on this spinning globe is that no one is going to survive—no one—despite the fact that how we apparently live our lives points discouragingly to the contrary. Don’t be hard on the passing storms; for some it’s the only time they even notice life at all.