I really don’t openly discuss my hobbies. They are my own and they speak more about me than I ever could myself. But, since this time of year is really one of my favorites not because of my birthday or that it is summer. Rather, it is the time of year that severe weather season is full bloom. I love the weather. I love watching it. I love being in it. I love watching Mother Nature do her thing.
This particular thing though… much of the people I know are scared to go out and chase storms. I can understand and respect the unpredictable and unstable nature of severe weather and how it affects people. Not everyone can either appreciate or even thrive in unstable conditions. Much less conditions that threaten their livelihood. While people in their right mind are wise to keep their distance from these types of things, I find a certain appeal in being threatened. There’s a certain excitement in knowing that the world around you can be challenging. Not just in the way that makes you think of escaping danger or unnecessary risk; but, in giving you the opportunity to take the risk knowing that whatever lies ahead may be dangerous and that it can damage or perhaps even kill. The excitement lies in the chase.
But, the dread lies in confrontation.
The way we approach life, at least I believe, can open a lot more doors for all of us if we approach it in much the same manner. Don’t get me wrong, though. I would like to think that I’m not fool enough to subject myself to turbulence and instability at every instance I could. After all, storm chasing is a hobby. There is a season in which where I can do this consistently or within a reasonable frame. However, you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a situation that mandates a response to the climate.
I don’t necessarily like being in turbulent conditions; but, I can honestly say that there is an unimaginable amount of gain to be had when you’re “under the gun” so to speak.
Nobody said life was safe and that progress was made by the actions of a conservative body. The common theme of progress is risk, it feels like. Just how far one is willing to go… Just what one is willing to give up for the sake of something else…
“Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair.” -William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk “Star Trek: Generations”
I’m big enough to admit that I’ve weathered storms that I had no business being part of. I’ve sat out storms I’ve wanted nothing to do with and I’ve born witness to the proverbial “perfect setup.” But, I’m also big enough to admit that in the midst of all these instances, I have felt anything but excitement. I’ve felt dread and I’ve felt fear. I’ve been afraid. But, that’s okay. Right? There’s nothing wrong with respecting dynamics beyond your control. There’s nothing wrong with picking your battles, right?
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
For every moment that you find yourself rooted in fear, angst, and doubt… there is a moment you can find yourself in a moment like this…
Shot May 27, 2013 by Brandon Ivey in TIV 2(Tornado Intercept Vehicle)
This picture was taken inside (YES INSIDE) the parent circulation of a strong EF-3 (Enhanced Fujita-Scale) or a weak EF-4 tornado. Meaning, the team inside of this vehicle dared to drive into the funnel of a tornado. Sounds ridiculous, right? Perhaps even ludicrous or insane. But, they weren’t going to get what they wanted from this storm being a safe distance away from it.
There has to be some point when we make the decision to not shy away from things because they aren’t safe. Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time doesn’t mean that conditions are conducive to safety, security, or even certainty.
I happen to know for an absolute fact that being in the right place at the right time is shrouded with instability and the potential to damage or even destroy all that we’ve constructed at any given point. For that reason, being anywhere but there has a certain appeal. Who wants to be at Ground Zero for anything? Who wants to see something get torn apart?
When, I feel the more appropriate and driving question is, “Who wants to see what you’re made of?”
Interesting thought, isn’t it? Getting to see what you’re made of… seeing how you stand up to stress, antagonism, rage, fury, and any other element that can wear you down so a point where there’s nothing left. Nobody wants to see how you stand up to things because nobody wants to see how you break. But, the risk of breaking is necessary because how else will you know how you’ll endure? For you to endure, you have to be tested. The climate in which you stand can’t be consistent otherwise how you’re built will reflect consistency. If you’re built for prosperity, how you’ll respond to adversity will overwhelm your inherent skills and talents. If you’re built for adversity, you may not know how to embrace prosperity. Or, who knows how you’ll respond to any given situation until you’re faced with it.
But, you’ll never know until you take the risk… embrace the challenge… find yourself face to face with what scares you the most.
Who knows… maybe that’s what chasing storms is all about.
Then again, maybe it’s the thrill of peril… or the opportunity to honker down, ride it out, and enjoy the show.
In honor of Matt Hughes (2010); Tim & Paul Samaras, Carl Young, and Richard Henderson (2013) and all those who have their own tornadoes to chase.