Waiting Out The Storm…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

Yesterday, my daughter and I were caught in a horrific, violent hail storm down the street at the local shops and we were absolutely terrified.  With six sleeps til Christmas and desperately trying to find something, anything for our 14 year old son, we’d trawled through almost every local shop, and were heading back for the car when the storm hit with unanticipated fury. By the time we realized how dangerous it was, it was too late. My daughter was telling me to walk faster, the same way I must’ve done when she was smaller. However, due to muscle weakness in my legs, I couldn’t. I could only go at my own pace. She might’ve only been a step or two ahead, but then she decided to cross the road at the pedestrian crossing, and that was when the hail started to fall. I have an performance enhancement device in my skull (otherwise known as a shunt) and I couldn’t chance it been hit by a hailstone, quite aside from the fact that hail can even kill your average Joe. Well, it’s probably more likely to kill your average Joe teenager, because I saw a few of them running across the road during the storm. Anyway, this all meant that my daughter was across the road by herself, while the sky was throwing a massive tantrum and pelting hail like an angry toddler. Although she’s now 12 and in high school, I knew she was terrified and wanted me with her but it was too dangerous. Fortunately the owner of the $2.00 shop took her under her wing and brought her inside.

As a writer, I know how to dramatize a story, inflating and colouring in the facts in lurid technicolour to ramp things up. However, this storm didn’t need embellishment. It’s terrifying violence and the deafening din of thousands of hailstones beating against the tin roofs of the local shops, spoke for themselves. Indeed, it reverberated through you like the sound of a thousand timpanis all beating at once.  The hail was really pelting down too, seemingly angry and lashing out at the earth. These hail stones ranged in size from about 3cms to tennis balls size around 8cm and some were even shaped like a cauliflower. At 5cm diameter, hail travels at 115kph and at 8cm it’s travelling at 175kph. So when you think about what all of that was doing to my heart rate along with being concerned about my daughter, our son at home and how the car was faring out in the open, a few Italian musical terms come to mind…accelerando, affrettando, prestissimo and forte! Forte! Forte!

Yet, right along the street, there were people photographing the storm with their phones, the same way we also photograph bush fires dazzled by the exquisite beauty of the flames, experiencing the intensity of nature’s fury and also that sense of hovering right on the very brink of destruction. That as much as we might want to turn our back and run, it lures us in…especially anyone passionate about photography or film. We’re in without even considering the cost.

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

dog in the storm

Taken just before the 2015 hail storm hit. Not a good time to walk the dog! It wasn’t one of ours.

This little black duck might’ve got caught out photographing a hail storm at our local beach a few years ago, and a massive rain storm in between. I don’t do this anymore. Well, not on purpose. This time I was simply caught out.

Anyway, naturally the hail stopped and it was safe for me to cross the road, collect my daughter and drive home. This is in the middle of a hot Australian Summer and yet here we were in a magical Winter wonderland. It was an early white Christmas.

However, this has turned into more of a Christmas subtraction for a lot of people, than a Christmas gift. We arrived home to find the roof of the office had been peppered with holes and the rain was getting in. It was nowhere near as bad as the last destructive hail storm three years ago where a tree also fell down. However, the rain was getting in and computers and paperwork were at risk. The car didn’t fare too well either. While we have friends with broken windows or a windscreen, our car is covered in pock marks, especially the bonnet. We’ve only had this car for a few weeks after I drove into a concrete divider in the hospital car park and that car was written off. It seems like I’m not having a good run with cars, although I wasn’t driving this one and the important thing is, that we’re all safe.

Hail2

I must admit that I’ve felt very shaken up by this storm. When you think about the effects of a relaxing massage, this was more like a jack hammer and quite the reverse. I also felt very unsafe walking through the heavy rain and my legs felt quite inadequate and like they couldn’t grip and I was wearing ice skates. I slept through much of today and really didn’t feel like getting out of bed. It felt safe. Fortunately, I didn’t need to go out and I just stayed home to chill out and clean up. It was my daughter’s first day of school holidays and our son’s had a few extra days. Not a great start, and we’ve been trying to see The Grinch. Maybe, tomorrow.

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“Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.”

Ho Chi Minh

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

Frederick Douglass

After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.

William R. Alger

Yet, reading through motivational quotes about storms, I realize that they’re a necessary part of life. That they don’t last forever, and it wasn’t long before the sun came out. However, there’s no denying the damage. You can point to the sun, the rainbow, but you can also point out the smashed windows, terrified people and animals and you can’t just wave a magic wand and it all disappears without a trace. Yet, every time you survive either a physical or psychological storm, you’re better equipped to deal with and overcome the next one. You have experience and you also have this much valued thing called resilience. You don’t get that by sitting in your armchair and watching the storms pass by on TV or your phone.

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“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

Rabindranath Tagore

DSC_0955

Sunset after the storm viewed through our Norfolk Pine tree.

How do you feel about storms, both of the weather and psychological variety?

Well, it’s well past my bedtime so it’s time to stop philosophizing and start snoozing.

Best wishes,

Rowena

8 thoughts on “Waiting Out The Storm…

  1. TanGental

    Most of our storms are feeble little wind farts compared to your full on.. hmm stop that metaphor right there, buster… point is we have weather here and you have a climate. Big difference proving why if there’s a God he must be English to give us some benign conditions to live in. Hope you duck and dive the weather critters and don’t read on a snake or spider in your desperation to get away. We don’t have dangerous ones of them either which is another reason to believe the English are the chosen people…. now what was I saying about metaphors? Merry crimbo Ro! Hope Santa is kind to you and yours. Big hugs from our cold little wet stupid island…

  2. annabellefranklinauthor

    Physical storms I can cope with (as TanGental says, we in the UK don’t have anything like the kind of humdingers you get – those hailstones are something else!) The psychological sort I don’t weather as well – I’ve never understood how one s**t storm is supposed to make you better able to cope with the next. It’s never worked that way for me, anyway!

  3. Dan Antion

    I’m glad to hear that you guys got home safely. Sorry for the damage (again). We rarely get hail here. I think I’m happy about that. Whether or not you got your shopping done, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  4. Rowena Post author

    I think the resilience develops after you find a few strategies that work for you when you get into a crisis. My go to is calming down my breathing and I also allow myself time afterwards to recover if possible. My daughter’s been at me to take her to the shops and I just haven’t felt up to it yet and the storm clouds have still been lingering and I haven’t been too sure about what they’re up to.
    Another thing about fighting these storms, is that you gain strength through survival. You can think: “I got through xyz and I can get through this”. Using your own examples of overcoming hurdles is more more empowering than other people’s success stories. I also take strength from those around me who I know have had tough times and think: “If they could do it, I can do it”. Doesn’t always work and lately we’ve had a bit of an intense run, but it’s so much better than my previous modus operandi of freaking out, falling apart and counting on someone else to sort things or me out, instead of feeling I had the capacity to save myself.

  5. Rowena Post author

    Thanks for the Christmas wishes, Geoff and I send them straight back at you. For our presents, my daughter and I are heading off to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to see her dance teacher Karina Russell play Veruca Salt: https://charliethemusical.com.au/cast/karina-russell/ We saw her in her costume for the first time last night on TV at Carols in the Domain. She is the personification of every floucy little girl’s pink tutu and tiara dreams.
    After returning from Europe, I also had the feeling that God had turned his wrath on Australia. My opinion hasn’t really altered. However, it does toughen us up, although that doesn’t always translate into victory on the cricket pitch!

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