On the Virtues of Storm Watching

You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.
— Sam Harris

Have you ever revelled in the experience of being cozy and safe indoors while a bad storm rolled through and felt drawn to watch it from your window as it passed?

I used to have a house that was perfect for engaging in this activity. It was situated on a corner lot, and it featured numerous large windows that overlooked the neighboring fields, so you could see each storm as it approached.

And I took advantage of it.

More often than not, when a big storm hit, I’d make a cup of tea and find a good perch somewhere on the second floor. From there, I’d sit and watch the sheets of rain come down as the gnarled cottonwood trees that were sprinkled across my neighborhood quaked in the wind.

I loved watching the storms. I found their power and intensity to be entrancing. And I particularly relished getting to observe these forces of nature from the comfort of my home, knowing that I wouldn’t have to venture outside into them and brave the elements.

I recently learned that in Iceland they have a word for this concept: “Gluggaveður” - meaning, “window-weather” - the kind of weather that is best enjoyed through the window from the warm safety of your home.

Although I’ve grown quite good at appreciating extreme weather when it passes by my window in the literal sense, I still have a long way to go when it comes to gazing inward through the window of my mind at my emotional storms as they pass.

Rather than calmly watching my feelings of anger, frustration, or pain roll by from a sheltered vantage point, I instead have the tendency to throw the door open, run out into these inner storms, and allow myself to be one with them.

I let the winds of anxiety stir me up and the icy rains of sadness flow over me and bring me down. I allow sharp bolts of lightning anger to shoot through me, and I permit my loud, thundering fears to frighten me and drive my behavior.

In other words, I too often let my emotions rule me.

I get caught up in these squalls of feeling and their intensity, opting to stand outside in the chaos instead of choosing to safely watch it all from the window. I allow my emotions to drive me, and I react to them in the moment without granting much space for reflection or thought.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve discovered that taking this approach with respect to my emotions doesn’t tend to serve me. But it’s something that I’m working to change - primarily by engaging in regular meditation and cultivating increased self-awareness.

I know that if I can inject some distance, some separation between me and my emotions, I will be able to begin observing my internal storms as they pass instead of subjecting myself to their wild elements.

And how lovely would that be? To suffer less and get to simply take note as the craziness rolls through -- taking comfort in knowing that, sooner or later, the sun will shine again.