Thunder and Lightning

March 18, 2013
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One day a few summers ago, I was taking a walk with a friend around the neighborhood. We walked and talked under the blue sky, soaking up the sun in our tank tops and flip-flops. Suddenly, black clouds engulfed the sunny sky. The chill of a cooler air brushed our skin instantly. The skies opened up, we were drenched from head to toe in seconds. We laughed and screamed as the shower soaked our hair, and we danced in puddles as the fresh smell of summer rain filled our noses. I stopped and plopped down in the middle of the road. I just lay there with my eyes closed, feeling the cool rain hit my face and form a warm puddle beneath my back. When I heard an ear-piercing crackle of thunder I could feel it in my bones. It rumbled underneath my body and up through my soul. I lay there for that moment enjoying the experience— the sounds, the smell, and the sensations of the weather. I felt as though I was a part of it all.

Before the storm I wasn’t aware of what was around me. I might have noticed the hot sun beating down on my bare shoulders and the heat of the pavement radiating through the bottoms of my flip-flops, but I didn’t pay any special attention to them. But for some reason when that first flash of lighting lit the sky and that first rumble of thunder vibrated throughout my limbs, I felt something. In A Texas Childhood, Rick Bass says, “I believe… that there are these lightning spark transformative moments in our lives, epiphanies” (2). But when does that time come? Bass explains that at some point in time a person will realize the part that nature plays in their lives. For me, my moment was realizing that I was connected.

Every human being is a part of nature. We are nature. Everyone and everything on this planet is interconnected and interdependent. I believe that there is a more abstract, spiritual meaning beyond our literal, physical dependence on nature, a meaning that cannot be taught but must be experienced. There is a time when we realize our place in this world and within nature. The question is, even if you experience it, can you fully understand it?

During my experience, I was not distracted by technology, gossip or my worries. My mind was blank. All I felt was a connection with nature. I think that was the moment I sensed a “volt of the world’s beauty” (9). That moment was filled with all sorts of emotions. For the most part I felt excitement. I felt happiness and joy. I felt like a little kid again. When I came back to reality, I danced and giggled some more. I’m not sure if my friend felt it too, but both of us went from passively enjoying our casual walk to raving with enthusiasm and laughter. It was as if nature had sparked the life within us. I had this feeling in my chest like I was about to burst. I looked around at the swaying trees, the wet grass, the ever-expanding gray sky, and my smiling friend, and I felt like I belonged.

I believe that this was a defining moment. As Rick Bass would say, I had my “sudden jolt of deeper awareness or even of understanding.” (3). I had a feeling deep inside me where I felt connected to that single raindrop that splashed onto my chest, that one tree swaying back and forth, and that flash of lightning in the sky. For that moment I knew my place in this world. For that moment I understood my reason for being. But I don’t think that right now I could tell you what that meant. That sudden jolt of understanding was in fact so sudden that I could only understand it for that instant.

What if the human mind itself cannot fully understand our relationship with nature? I believe it is something that we indeed will experience but may never understand. You can take all of the symbolic elements of nature and connect it to your spiritual life, or even the physical elements of nature and connect it to your everyday life, but you can’t be sure what nature really means to you until you have that transforming moment. Maybe we can only subconsciously be aware of our connection. We may only know one thing for sure, “whatever the wild or natural world has, it is part of who we are, and always have been, as well as who we are becoming” (17).

Works Cited
Bass, Rick. “A Texas Childhood” The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004. Phillip Zaleski, ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004

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