Angry clouds gather above my head once again. The wind batters the abandoned strip mine in bursts as the songbirds huddle together in the thickest part of the underbrush as they seek shelter from nature’s wrath. Somewhere else in the forest a box tortoise closes his shell as tightly as he can and the deer bed down on the leeward side of the mountain. The instinct to avoid a storm is one of the strongest forces in nature.
But there are those who have a different mindset. Some people run into the storm. For those people the raw power that God placed in elements of nature is irresistible, for some it’s scientific curiosity, and for others it’s the knowledge that after the storm passes someone will need help. I’ve found that the majority of the people who run into the storm do so because they themselves were touched by the aftermath of a storm in some way.
There’s definitely a Superman complex to one degree or another going on in the minds of most people. That’s okay as long as it comes with an equal measure humility. As humans we have a drive to make a difference and there’s a sense of fulfillment that comes with helping a stranger that will never see or hear from you again. But I think that there’s more than social instincts happening. I think that helping to set things right makes us feel like we’ve got some measure of power over the storm. We may not be able to stop the storms but the storms can’t stop us either. The scientists who chase storms do so to provide earlier warnings and stronger shelters. The rescuers do so to bring as many people to safety as possible. The rebuilders take up where the rescuers and scientists left off. Everyone does their part and the whole benefits.
But this phenomenon isn’t limited to weather. We extend this behavior into all aspects of life. A person who is terrified of a natural storm may not think twice about rushing in to aid someone who is in the middle of emotional distress. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those who would take on the natural storm will steer clear of the emotional storm. We all have a purpose and a place in such things. In fact for a lot of people the “storm” comes in the form of loneliness and what’s called for is a person who is just willing to ask them about their day.
As the storm moves in closer to my position I can see the thick bands of rain cascading down and a second wave of thunder begins the countdown to when I need to have my camera and myself someplace warm and dry. Fortunately the big blue truck is just a few steps away from where I’m set up. This particular storm isn’t really expected to cause damage. Sometimes all it turns out to be is a few gusts of wind, an isolated shower and a lot of noise. That’s great for a dramatic photograph but not really dangerous enough to warrant sticking around long enough to get wet.
With my lens tucked away safely in its dry case the big blue truck rolls back onto the pavement and I move on to the next opportunity.
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