Monday, May 31, 2010

Storms Of the Heart

When the rain finally came, it fell as if from the lip of an overturned bucket, then as though someone had tipped the earth and spilled the ocean. Wave after wave of water splashed down. My windshield wipers could not keep up so I pulled off the road and sat listening to the hammer of the drops on the roof of my car.

It’s like that sometimes. The gray clouds hover, you expect rain, but what you get is a deluge—more life than you can handle at one time. It further occurred to me as I watched the slide of water over the window that no matter what happens in nature, there’s a mirror of human behavior somewhere in the event.

My own life’s weather has been tempestuous with just enough calm moments in between to suspect that there will always be more. The storms still catch me unaware, however, despite the warning signs, the rumblings of discontent like far off thunder, the harsh words and heavy silences that precede the tempest.

I was taught as a child to harness the lightning that threatened to blast relationships to smithereens in one brilliant, violent flash. I was severely reprimanded for pulling my brother’s ear in an argument, was punished for biting and kicking and scratching to settle a score, was banished to my room for outbursts of verbal wrath. Slowly but surely I built a container for my anger, put up walls. I wore deliberate kindness like a suit of armor and learned that what you practice in earnest can become an integral part of you. There were always chinks in my armor, though, and I was continuously breaching the walls to see if the climate outside my own sense of self had changed.

As a teenager, I channeled my intensity and passion into safe outlets, pouring my turbulent thoughts into stories and diary entries and poems. I created happy endings where none existed, wrestled with fears, practiced acceptance, wrote and rewrote my real life into something I could believe in. I learned that I could be at odds with everyone else’s real life and still be secure in my own.

As an adult I’ve come to see the mirror in natural events as an aide to figuring things out. Just as surely as I knew the rain sluicing over my car and obliterating the highway would ease and finally cease, I know too, that storms of the heart blow themselves out. The incessant winds that ride the sky, winds that change the world just by moving through it, blow the tears, like the rain, away.

I have learned that, try as I might to outrun my life storms, they always catch up with me. Far better to stop by the side of the road and wait them out, letting the rain and the tears wash down, revive, cleanse, release, than to shake my fist in helpless anger at a natural turn of events. Gradually, as I sat thinking these very thoughts, the rain ceased pounding, became a gentle patter. I eased my car back onto the highway, safely along a road I could now see.

 Thank you Hilary for the POTW mention!


steven said...

pauline - this is brilliant writing! i don't drive but i connect to each and every word as a feature of my own experience and i imagine that there are many of your readers who will find the same remarkable expression of what they have known in their own lives. thankyou so much for this. steven

Hilary said...

So beautifully written, Pauline. You're so right about how the things around us reflect what's going on inside of us.

Brian Miller said...

plants need those storms to grow...i think we do as well...

20th Century Woman said...

Just to carry on the metaphor a bit, the storms sometimes change the course of rivers, or make new streams, pathways to the water's ultimate destination, the ocean. I think that has life parallels as well.

A lovely piece, beautifully written.

Pauline said...

thank you Steven - that piece came almost as written while I sat in that deluge. funny how that happens - life writing itself.

and thank you, Hilary - I imagine it's always happening but we need to take notice. I'd just fled from a dreadful argument and the pouring down rain was a metaphor waiting to be discovered.

Brian - it seems so.

20thCW - the ocean is a metaphor for what? Life? Death? I like the idea of new streams, new river paths. Yes, sometimes storms do make vast changes. This one did, as a matter of fact.

Reya Mellicker said...

This is such a beautiful post. Beautifully written, and so true, it rings like a bell.


Jean said...

Ce ciel sombre aurait pu ĂȘtre peint par Van Gogh .
Passion , tristesse ?

Pauline said...

Thank you Reya . It was true for me that particular day and has been so from then on...

Jean - tristesse - sadness, yes? Sadness and hope, espoir, aussi.

Anonymous said...

Sent here from Hilary's Post of the Week where you are mentioned, and so happy to be here.
This is fine writing.

Tabor said...

Congrat's on you POTW. I am glad I didn't miss this. It is so honest and true.

Ruth said...

Beautiful thoughts, and beautiful piece. I loved the image of the earth tipping out the oceans.

It's so tricky balancing the normal emotion of anger, with relationships.

I like one image I read in Tolle, to flap your wings madly like a duck, then swim on. Or Gurdjieff's advice from his father, to never respond to an insult until 24 hours later. By then, Gurdjieff found, there was nothing left of his initial anger.

Cricket said...

Yep. You've about summed it up. I felt something similar during the recent floods. Serious destruction was about a 3 minute walk away, but at my house, nothing. Makes you think.

Congratulations on the potw.

Sky said...

you have such a way with words. they lift us up and carry us along, holding us safely as we meander through landscapes and lifescapes, brush us with a feathering of colors, feelings, and insights, and gently return us to our lives, seasoned by what you shared. what a gift, pauline! thank you.

thanks for dropping by. i am around but have not been posting here. life has had its challenges -a couple of viruses, a bad fall, an elderly and crazy father, etc.

i love FB and am there everyday reading and posting off and on. if you are on FB please send me a note via my blog which is moderated. your message won't be published.

Daryl said...

Beautifully written, congrats on the POTW mention from Hilary

Marion said...

"Slowly but surely I built a container for my anger, put up walls. I wore deliberate kindness like a suit of armor and learned that what you practice in earnest can become an integral part of you."

Me, too. Thank you for this fabulous post, Pauline. So much of it resonated deep inside me...this post shall be one of my favourites, you can be sure!

Barbara said...

Thank God the sun always comes out again and dries the tears and the raindrops or whatever has taken a beating. And thank God we seem to remember the sunny times more than the storms, although they do tend to leave their mark on our personal history, don't you think?

Bossy Betty said...

Loved this metaphor. So apt. Loved your image of stopping, riding the storms out rather than reacting with fits of anger.

There certainly is a lot to learn in this life, isn't there?

Thanks for this post. It was lovely.

deb said...

congrats on the POTW,

and this writing was fabulous.

These sentiments resonate with me so so much.

Pauline said...

Thanks, Moannie - I enjoyed my read at your blog - congrats on your POTW as well.

Tabor, thank you.

Ruth - my mother used to say "act like a duck, calm and serene on top, paddling like hell underneath!"

Cricket - thinking is such serious business sometimes

glad to hear from you sky - will do

thank you, Daryl

Marion - thanks :)

barbara - yes, our personal history is made up of the ups, the downs, and all of our chosen reactions

thanks for stopping by BB - and yes, there's always something to learn, no matter how much we already know!

Nishant said...

So beautifully written
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