Every day I turn to nature as a way to de-stress. I count on the energy of the sun, the sky, the water, and the spontaneity of it all to meet me with calming, awe-inspiring experiences. But lately nature has been flexing its muscles and putting on a show so startling that we humans are forced to attention. In a short time we've witnessed a partial eclipse of the sun, wild fires, an earthquake, and hurricanes.
We are creatures of habit. If you’re like me, you wake up each morning and expect to open your eyes to a familiar landscape outside your window. We like predictable stability — day dissolving into night and back again, and the seasons changing with calendar regularity. But nature is alerting us not to count on anything.
Is there a reason why breezes have become gale-force winds? There’s a naturally occurring climate pattern called the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation that’s responsible for hurricane activity. Scientists agree that in late summer and early fall, conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean off Africa become just right for cyclonic storms to form. But understanding what's happening doesn't impose order on it.
The best we can do is attempt to predict the weather. One of the most advanced hurricane forecasting systems was developed by an independent intergovernmental organization in Europe. It produces 52 distinct forecasts of every storm’s path, each represented by a line on a map. Last week was unusually chaotic. Hurricane Irma was one of three major Atlantic storms that threatened this country. Perhaps you too flipped from news station to station testing the credibility of the forecasts against actual measurements of surges, swells, storm-force winds, and wave heights. Using these facts we anticipated danger and considered action. But just because we could measure it doesn't mean we could manage it.
Nature’s tantrums stop us in our tracks. They steal untold lives, and exact immeasurable damage. We hold our collective breath as a storm’s fierce energy builds. When it arrives we watch the windswept water flatten barriers to its path. And as the storm plays itself out, we can’t help but be impressed by the might and majesty of the elements.
Is this the same powerful energy that ushers in the bright-leaved dormancy that is a sign of autumn? What surprises will greet us as it unfolds?
Is chaos nature's tantrum, or our own feeling of being out of control?
It’s easy to forget that we are mere guests on this planet.
Sources: Wikipedia.org/wiki/weather_forecasting, Peter Drucker