July 26, 2016

Overcoming the Storm by Becoming the Storm.

Chris Lawton/Unsplash

“For the man sound of body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.” ~ George Gissing

Many of us have felt the ache of unreciprocated love or the emptiness of being alone.

We all deal with personal battles, wounded hearts and internal storms. During hard times in our lives, we become haunted with clouds of sadness. It must be part of our experience as humans who feel so much. We all have suffering in our lives and it’s never easy to find sunshine in the midst of a storm.

When I was under the curse of a toxic relationship, I experienced the world through turbid, murky waters. Like fine sand and silt, I was a suspended sediment, easily blended about in the shallow waters of the ocean, pushed around by unpredictable currents that swelled during a violent storm. My heart was broken and I was sinking in my sadness.

I saw gray, gloomy skies, weeping branches and melancholy expressions on empty faces. Additionally, I felt that grayness, sadness and emptiness. I remember hoping for stormy days so the weather would match my mood. I was an ominous cumulonimbus cloud hovering over a desolate path. I was a weeping willow in a dark, haunted town. I was a flower rooted in the ground under the shade of the willow tree, desperately seeking light.

Eventually I had to change the way I thought about being alone because it hurt too much. I learned to accept my isolation and used it as an opportunity to get to know myself again. I began giving my body, mind and soul the attention that I wanted from someone else. I embarked on a journey to explore my true self and the depths and desires of my heart. There was light beyond the shade, but I had to step out of my own shadow.

I started getting outside more. At first, I simply went on walks around my apartment. At dawn I could observe the rose-pink light of sunrise and listen to the quietude of empty streets. The morning light decorated the sky with curtains of color. Sometimes I saw a lamp glowing behind pulled shades, and I wondered about the strangers inside. I wondered if they were happy. I wanted to be happy.

I read verses from the Bhagavad Gita before bed each night while the luminous light of the moon dripped through my open window. The sheer curtains swayed gently as a subtle breeze entered my dreaming room. Curiosity filled my imagination as I wondered about the poets and their scriptures that captivated me. Did they write beside a tranquil river, under twinkling stars and planets, by the dim light of a flickering candle, or under the spell of deep, true love?

I started exploring the hiking spots around my town. I found that hiking adventures brought me an abundance of pleasure. As I followed the trails, I became encased in walls of green. Layers of leaves surrounded me, and I was amazed at the shapes, sounds, and colors of the woods. I closed my eyes during a heavy wind and felt the lungs of the Earth expand and relax. In Nature, I inhaled the ionized prana that purified my soul.

The quietude of the woods encouraged me to listen. Occasionally the sounds of moving water led me off the path. A hidden stream made me wonder about fairies. A fallen leaf floated away the way my dreams do. I was hypnotized by the serene scenery as golden waves of sunlight filtered through a cathedral of trees.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.”

 ~ George Gordon Lord Byron

I treasured my symbiotic relationship with Nature. She mesmerized me with her beauty, embraced me with her winds and kissed me with her warm ribbons of sunshine. Walking mindfully along the paths that diverged through the wilderness, I felt the Earth beneath my feet. From the highest elevation, I gazed at the land below and felt deeply at peace. As I listened to the sounds of silence, quotes of Hemingway and Thoreau were whispered into my heart.

Beautiful words drifted through space, and I realized my life was a poem.

The universe gave me a peace offering in the form of Nature. Fresh grass cushioned my bare feet. The whispering breeze spoke to my spirit and my wavy hair danced freely in the wind. I honored my neighbors, a community of birds that shared the woods behind my townhome. Eastern towhees, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, and sparrows weightlessly traveled through the trees, while robins ran across the lawn whistling melodic hymns. At dawn you could hear the melancholy ballad of a mourning dove. The rays of sun cast down onto my exposed skin and changed me.

Particles of calmness and serenity sprinkled within my atmosphere the way snowflakes drift in a snow globe. I opened my arms and lifted my palms to the utopian universe. I accepted all the gifts the universe offered me. The warmth and light of sunshine, the purifying flexibility of water, the energy of the storms, the security of Earth and the mystery of space. Poetry, flowers, birds and clouds the shapes of horses and faces pervaded my dreams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.”

I waited for the storms of my life to pass, then suddenly my eyes were open to the beauty and mystery of my reality. There was a blue horizon waiting for me, and I was greeted with banners of color at the end of a rainbow. I found a lucid stillness within myself that resembled the way the sky looks calm and bright after an exuberant storm. The cloudy water that blinded my vision started to dissolve and magically, my broken heart started to heal.

The Earth will continue to rotate, shifting the aquamarine waters of our planet. But I am not just a piece of suspended matter stirring about in lively currents during a violent storm. I am the storm—energetic, powerful, and mysterious. I am a sunken gemstone, heavy and unmoved by shallow waves. I am the calmness after the storm and I am the ocean, deep and ever-changing.

I no longer wish for gray days to accompany the sullen weather in my heart. I have realized that without the storms, we wouldn’t truly appreciate the sunshine. Without the sadness, would we revel in the moments of happiness? I discovered that the love and companionship I longed for was within myself. I abandoned the girl with sadness in her eyes and I opened my petals to the light. By embracing the solitude of being alone, my heart found peace. By getting lost in Nature, I found myself again.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore


Author: Katherine H. Cross

Image: Chris Lawton/Unsplash

Apprentice Editor: Katerina Kan; Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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