I can vividly remember the days of my childhood when hot air met cold air; the days when the night sky looked as dark as the smudged ink on my fingertips. A bolt of lightning flashed spectacularly across the night’s ruptured black abyss with thunder roaring its mighty approval.
Rain spluttered, splattered, and spiraled down, soaking the earth’s dry soil, like the salty tears were soaking my fair-skinned cheeks. With hands covering my ears, I cried into my mother’s chest as shadows danced across my bedroom walls, with flashes appearing every now and again that made me jump out of my skin.
Storms and natural disasters intrigue people. The fact that the world and the elements can beat us with their hands tied behind their backs leaves us with an awe and respect for nature.
Nature is loved for all it provides; nature is hated because it gives us no warning. One day I could be in my office contemplating the latest “someone keeps stealing my coffee cup” drama, and the next, an earthquake hits, a flash flood, or a lightning strike.
I fear what I have no control over.
When I hit the majestic age of sixteen filled with the excitement of the freedom that comes with driving, my dad took me out on the highway for the first time. As I started to get comfortable on the road, a blistering storm passed overhead.
The rain was so forceful as it tore through the highway and vigorously ripped through the maple trees, plucking the delicate leaves from their branches.
I felt a rush of anxiety overwhelm my body, causing a feeling of tightness in my chest. My hands began to quiver around the steering wheel and my heart was heavily thumping under my rib cage. Tears began to spring from my eyes, dribbling like a leaking faucet onto my face.
My dad kept telling me to calm down, but his request was ineffective. My fear planted itself in my head and began sprouting thoughts so loud that my dad’s voice was almost non-existent. Mother Nature had swallowed me whole and spit me out in pieces.
I was consumed by nature – a force that seemed greater than my own being.
If I could control Mother Nature, she would no longer be a mystery. Mystery stipulates acknowledgement. There are quite a few reasons I, as a human, feel connected to nature, drawn to her, inspired to open my door and spend time in her presence.
However, there is a darker side that crawls out from beneath the awe-striking wonders nature beholds. It can wrap its arms around me and steal my breath with amazement or sneak up behind me and shake me to the bones in fear.
Natural disasters are terrifying. Even though I haven’t experienced the worst, I have seen all of the different kinds of devastation a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami, a volcano, or a wildfire can bring. Not knowing what’s in store for me and my loved ones or when the turmoil will end is a level of uncertainty that leaves me with a sense of uncomfortable paranoia.
The people who love nature are willing to sacrifice some level of discomfort to experience and expose themselves to the natural world.
I do not hate nature, nor do I love it. The relationship I have with nature is very selective.
When nature opens up and shows her weak spots, I feel inspired. I love to see how the sun paints rainbows onto virgin snow, how moonlight illuminates two lovers as they embrace, and how stars glitter in the darkness. The rain makes a pretty sound as it hits rooftops and I love dangling icicles because they look so crystalline.
Nevertheless, when Mother Nature steams with anger and needs to release her inner vengeance, the only place I want to be is home—a place where I have the illusion of feeling safest.
As a young girl, even the slightest roar of thunder would leave me shivering with fright. Growing up, my symptoms slightly decreased, although, if there is a large storm, I have to be inside of my house. I cannot be driving in it without pulling on the side of the road, and if I am a passenger, I have to lower the seat, close my eyes, and turn the radio up to block the sound of the rain.
When strong winds thrash, the whistle pierces my ear drums and I instinctively expect the worst. Natural disasters bring me to my knees, reminding me of the “what if?” that looms over me in varying degrees.
As long as I am watching from a safe distance, I am safe to be just startled; if I am too close, I can be spooked into life-changing behaviors; if I am in it, change is inevitable.
The tornadoes will sweep the alley, the thunderstorms roar in the air, the hurricanes will swirl in the sea, and the rain will flood.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night after a storm and all I see is darkness out the window. I live in a world where sometimes nature chooses to live in the dark. What can I do in a world like that? I might as well just close my eyes.
I know the silver moon will keep me company.
I found this personal narrative I wrote in 2012 for a college English class tucked in a dusty corner of my hard drive. The prompt was to discuss our idea of nature and where we think that idea came from.