Monday, July 16, 2012

Waiting Out the Storm

As I have mentioned before, yoga has helped put me in touch with nature on a different level. New Zealand was full of nature lessons, especially its healing power. There were also reminders that nature is not always tame -- sea lions like to "play". Here in the desert, there are really three lessons I have learned. First, life exists in places you would never imagine possible. Second, hot has new meaning when you live in the desert. And third, there is such a thing as monsoons! Growing up in California, summer rain was nearly unknown, but here in the desert it is a lovely respite from the heat, but the storm itself is power like nothing else I have ever experienced, and they arrive and depart almost instantaneously. Seven years after moving to the desert, they still amaze me.

This year we have had a lot more rain than normal, so I have been thinking a lot about monsoons, especially after getting caught in one while driving over the weekend. I had to drive over two hours to see a client over the weekend, and the shortest path there includes driving over a road with a lot of dips. It is a beautiful road to drive, but as one of my friends and colleagues reminded me, it is less than safe in a monsoon.  

As I was preparing to head back to Tucson on my drive, I looked out and saw nothing but black clouds on my path ahead. Thinking it would be safer to take the long road back, which traverses highways (and no dips in the road), I turned my car around and headed north. Perhaps I should have consulted the wind; it was blowing north.

The storm I tried to outsmart caught up with me on Interstate 10. The wind put Wellington to shame, and there were moments I could not see the front of my car, let alone any other cars or the lines on the road. All I could do was pull off the side of the road and sit there. Other cars, and some trucks, tried to keep going, and each one that drove by scared me just a little more. It did not help that I actually thought my car was going to blow away in the wind. The fear was palpable, and my heart was racing, yet in the midst of all of it, I found a moment to breathe. After all, what could I do but be grateful I hit the storm in a place where I could find a relatively safe place to stop rather than at the bottom of a dip in the road with my car floating away?

And then it cleared! The skies revealed the post-monsoon desert serenity. There is no beauty quite like it. The air that has been holding its breath (and yours) for hours, perhaps days, is fresh and clear. And it is cool. The clouds that continue to dot the sky look light and refreshed, not bogged down with the weight of their water. But to get to that serenity, you have to wait out the storm, perhaps even with a bit of gratitude knowing you will survive and knowing what awaits you on the other side of it.

I was driving a work car, so I had to take it back to the office. When I got there, I sent a colleague a text message telling her the car survived, and I was just a little worse for wear after the scariest drive of my life. She told me she was in the office “in case I needed a shoulder.” Surprisingly, I did not need a shoulder, but I did need a friendly face. I went up to the office and laughed and chatted with her for awhile. When I left again, the air remained fresh, and the desert was full of peaceful life.

Saturday’s lesson was huge. No matter how much we try to outrun the storms in our lives, they are going to catch up to us, but we can keep them from killing us with a little bit of preparation and perhaps some friendly advice from friends and colleagues. We may freak out in the middle, then remember how to breathe and calm down a bit, and then be rewarded with a deep and true sense of peace. When we are really lucky, someone reaches out and offers us the support we need. But for all these lessons to be learned, we still have to wait out the storms, even when they are monsoons! This is why we do the yoga, this is why we do the breathing. When these storms hit, we can come back from them not too much worse for wear, even if we still need a friendly face.

How do you wait out storms? Have people reached out to you in the midst of them? After them?


© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved.

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