Reflecting on a Storm

Last night we had some nasty thunderstorms pass through the area and several tornadoes touched down. Our capitol city of Springfield suffered widespread damage with fortunately few fatalities. I was up most of the night because I wanted to keep an eye out for a nasty line of storms making their way to Champaign-Urbana around 4:00 a.m. Truth be told, it wasn't my interest that kept me up...not as much as my long-lived fear of tornadoes. As a kid, I was extremely afraid of Mother Nature's twisted creation. I was never in a tornado, nor do I know anyone who survived one. Nevertheless, growing up in the Midwest must have had an effect on me. The terror seeped into my unconscious, no doubt because of all the nature shows, tornado drills, and siren tests the first Tuesday of each month.

I was socialized to fear the tornado.
So much so, that tornadoes are the most frequently recurring theme in my dreams. I can recall many vivid dreams of being in a house when a tornado is coming. Usually it involves me running to a basement and hiding. Oddly, the house never seems to get hit, I am never injured or killed, and rarely do I actually see the tornado. What can it all mean? Cue the Freudian psychologists! I already know what it means to me: it's the fear of the unknown. Fear of being at the mercy of an uncontrollable force.

That intense fear has subsided over the years, but I still cringe a bit whenever hazardous weather travels my way. Despite that, I think it would be cool to chase a tornado with an experienced meterology crew. Bad movie references aside, there is something raw and beautiful about the tornado. I just don't want it chewing on my house! And therein, lies the other fear. The fear of losing my possessions. Damn you, materialistic society!

When I was young, having been fed all the dark imagery, I decided to make my own tornado kit. Now, an adult would fill said kit with rations, a flashlight, battery powered radio, and first aid supplies. As a nine-year-old, I stocked mine with a car, LEGO man on a motorcycle, a stuffed Garfield, and a few other misc toys. By god, I wouldn't leave behind all my friends! I secured them all in an old camera case and had them stationed by my bed...awaiting the howl of the sirens.

In retrospect, how cute and funny of me. No, seriously, I was cute and funny once. Anywho, this got me thinking about one of those dilemmas we ask ourselves for interest and self-exploration. If I could only take one thing with me to my tornado shelter, what would it be? After a brief thought, I knew I had to take my writing journals. It would suck to lose the files on my computer and pictures in my photo albums. And I could buy back all the other "stuff" I own. But my writings cannot be recreated. They are a part of me catalogued through time -- a mental archive, if you will.

Wondering if this post has a point? Well, it doesn't. Though I will toss in a treat if you've suffered this long. About two years ago, I faced-off with a massive swirling vortex of potential chaos, oh, say, within a mile of my apartment at the time. And like any idiot, I ran to get my camera and snap a picture of it. And oddly, I wasn't all that afraid. And thankfully, it didn't land on me...or anywhere for that matter.

Check it out:

As for the moral of this story, I think our minds take hold of the images that resonant with us and use them to illustrate what we fear. It's like the unconscious and conscious having a dialogue in slightly different languages. And we are left in between, the sole interpreter, trying to make sense of it all and understand ourselves a little better.


Ben said...

I finally got to make use of the time difference. I was watching the radar as a tornado-containing cell made its way towards my cousins house. Fortunately, it weakened when it was about 10 miles out.

But to your point, I'm actually quite scared of thunderstorms. And I seek the damn things out. But I suppose that besides the amazing power and beauty of storms, I'm drawn to the excitement of fear of the unknown. I guess you could just say I have tremendous respect for nature. It's beautiful, but it could kill me.

Oh, and I was watching the news the other day and a "severe storm" was passing through San Jose. There were reports of two lightning strikes!!! Think there might have been some thunders too. No reports of any wheelbarrows getting blown over though, so it musn't have been that bad. :-/

Army said...

Well, ya know, it's not a "Midwestern-style" thunderstorm unless some decorative wheelbarrows are knocked over and a few trash cans are scattered about...

We were also in the path of tornado warnings, but the storm dissipated by the time it reached a few counties from us.

The worst time to face a tornado is in the darkness of night.

Allie D. said...

Chris- I had no idea we had this little phobia in common. I remember my mom showing me one of those Discover Channel shows on tornadoes when I was about 8 or 9, and I was traumatized to the point where I still live in fear of the damn twisters, even though such phenomenon are extremely rare in this part of the country. I habituatlly had my head turned to the southwest corner of the sky if the weather turned iffy. If it was really hot one day and really cold the next, I was almost certain "today would be the day that the warm front and cold fronts would combine to bring forth certain doom."

And goddamn yes, the DREAMS! They are also a recurring theme for me.

Robert said...

Thunderstorms put me to sleep. Go figure.