ominous beauty

The lavender morning sky betrays the tenderness of the sunrise and the wind whispers of dangerous weather not so far off. Its beauty all at once admired and unsettling.

Thunderstorms and my inability to have any control over them have hastened my heart rate and knotted my stomach since I was a child. Certainly, anxiety over bad weather isn’t terribly uncommon-especially in kids-but growing up in Southeast Louisiana, where afternoon thundershowers populate summer days and hurricane season seems to be ever extending its stay, should have presented me with plenty of opportunities to face it and to manage a peaceful coexistence.

And yet, even though I can control and mask my anxious reaction to impending severe weather far better than I used to, the not knowing and the unpredictability still unsettles me.

My oldest son (who somehow inherited only my anxiety and is otherwise 100% a replica of his father) has yet to learn to mask his weather worry in any sort of meaningful way and so instead of waking him to appreciate the beauty of this early morning sky, he remains snuggled safely unaware in his bed in an effort to shrink the window of his worry.

Growing up, my dad always felt far differently about these events than I did. When a thunderstorm brewed and I wanted to hide my eyes from any evidence of it, he would lift every shade in the house, welcoming the brilliance of the illuminated sky. On summer vacations at the beach, he would wish for an evening thunderstorm to arrive and when that wish was granted would steady his camera on the tripod in an effort to capture the fleeting electrical display as it webbed through the dark expanse above the waves.

In the grand list of all the things I love about my dad, this is certainly one of them. However, in those moments years ago, his joy in the thing that terrified me, also perplexed and probably frustrated me, and I’m sure in an anxious moment (or many) I said some things about it that weren’t so friendly.

It’s confounding to me because I typically welcome the unknown as an opportunity to learn, to grow. I teach teenagers for goodness’ sake! There are no creatures in the world more unpredictable than they are and so many people misunderstand that and question my choice to spend my days with them–and yet my kids, my students, teach me something about myself and this world everyday. They push me to be a better human and I cannot imagine my life without those 143 young people.

But I guess when I think about my urge to run and hide from the force that is ominous weather as opposed to my dad’s desire to witness its power as beauty unbound, it feels sort of like the difference between hiding from acceptance of the truth of anything/anyone we don’t fully understand and opening ourselves to envision the potential beauty rather than the seeming disaster. Ironically, when it comes to my dad and I, I’m the optimistic one and he’s the cynical one.

Funny how those one word titles don’t encompass the whole. Bet that happens a lot in this life.

(Day five courtesy of my dog waking me up too early which allowed me to witness the early morning sky)

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