Lessons come in many different forms, and when you least expect it. Last weekend was filled with them, each day with a different one as I drove somewhere. Below is Friday’s adventure.
One of my favorite spots in the world is my idea of where my hometown starts. It is a curved section of road with trees on one side, and a wide expanse of lake on the other. It is as though my whole being sighs with relief when I cross this section of road. I gaze over the guardrail at the lake on my left and look back at the trees on my right and know that I am home. I don’t think it will ever matter where this life takes me – that section of road will always bring me a level of peace that no other spot in the world will.
I had gone to visit brother on Friday, and after our visit as I was heading out of town, I crossed that same expanse of road. The trees cleared briefly on my left and I caught a glimpse of storm clouds rolling in. I marveled at their beauty as I glanced between them and the road. It is amazing how something so violent can be so beautiful. The purple clouds were variegated, with points of almost pink and a deep indigo blue, gray in spots, ominous and bruised and appearing to be full to bursting. “Well, shit.” I mumbled and pushed Scarlett just a little bit faster. “I wonder if I can get in front of it?” While they were stunning in their violent beauty, I knew that I didn’t want to drive in a thunderstorm.
I thought for just a moment that I was going to be able to do just that – get in front of it, or at the very least stay along side it. It seemed as though the storm was heading in a straight line adjacent to the road I travelled, but not coming in towards me.
Until I rolled into the first town in my path, and the tree line receded again. I saw that the storm was in fact starting to meander in my direction.
I still thought maybe I could outrun it though. It wouldn’t be long and I would turn off and head away from it again.
Apparently impending storm weather means you need to drive slowly though. Hell, maybe there’s a rule somewhere that I’ve missed and you legit should drive slower when a storm is rolling in. As far as I was concerned it wasn’t raining, and the roads weren’t treacherous so I figured I could drive just as fast as I wanted.
Two vehicles in front of me begged to differ though, keeping their speed at least 5mph below the speed limit, if not ten. Any time a passing lane presented itself, there were cars coming in the other direction preventing me from speeding around them. I started to feel irritation, wanting to get around these individuals and as far away from the storm as possible. I’m sure they are wonderful people, and were in no hurry to reach their destination and felt no fear of the storm rolling towards us. I still called them every name in the book though and questioned the reason they were put on this Earth, as it seemed it was just to inconvenience me.
We reached an open stretch of road, and the wind came up. Small branches blew across the road in front of me, and my heart jumped into my throat.
“This is it. A tornado is gonna form right here in the field next to me and I’m going to die.” I thought.
Once upon a time I had an absolutely debilitating fear of storms. I mentioned before in a post how I would stay up nights watching the Weather Channel when there was severe weather. I would watch the bulletins scroll across the bottom of the television screen and study the type of storm warning it was and what counties it was affecting. I would cower on the couch under a blanket in our trailer living room in the dark, the TV the only light, and pray to whoever would listen to not let me die by being sucked up into the sky. A tornado once legit crossed over our trailer, and the field next to our house went flat and the small saplings dad had planted bent to kiss the ground. . . but it just passed over, and I did not die that day.
As I grew older, my fear subsided. I even grew to enjoy storms. I have even gone so far as to listen to a thunderstorm soundscape to sleep every night. I have not known that debilitating fear for quite sometime now.
But on the road driving towards home in Scarlett, I went headfirst into my childhood fear. The wind jostled the vehicle and I gripped the steering wheel tightly and prayed to whoever would listen to not let me die by being sucked up into the sky.
The storm followed me like that all the way home, always remaining to my left and taunting me with occasional bursts of wind and rain, but not actually fully engulfing me.
I was never so glad to be home.
After parking Scarlett I hurried through the spitting rain to the house; I tossed my sunglasses on the counter, greeted my little dog and rushed to my bedroom and found comfortable clothes, put soothing music on and got into the shower. I felt unnecessary fear and anger, and I’m pretty sure if someone had looked at me wrong I would have wanted to fight. Luckily no one was around, and I was left to my own devices to find my calm again. I knew how I felt came from feeling helpless and alone in the storm. I knew that my anxiety was feeding me a bunch of bullshit. So I concentrated on the fact that I was now safe in my home, and I let the water wash away all of the negativity that I was feeling.
I didn’t know I still harbored this fear of storms. I thought I had moved past that, years ago in fact.
It goes to show that you can think you know yourself so well, and still be faced with a situation that brings up something from your past and allows you to get to know yourself just a little bit better.
After taking the time to acknowledge this part of myself, after sitting with my anger and fear and figuring out it’s source, I was able to move past it. That isn’t to say that I will never be afraid of a storm again – it just means that I may cope a little better next time.
I wasn’t sure that this qualified as a side trip – I went exactly where I intended to go and ended up back home right around the time I expected to be. Being that I ended up sitting with a past version of myself for quite some time that evening, I think it qualifies though.
So, don’t be afraid of that. Don’t be afraid to get to know those past versions of yourself – they are still a part of who you are today, and likely will help this current version of you.
I put on my thunderstorm soundscape, burrowed under my blankets and slept deeply and soundly, preparing for the day to come.