Wednesday, December 29, 2004


It took more than eight decades to see the truth. What a hoot!

Received word today from my friend that -- though the sky is filled with sunlight for the moment -- there are ominous warnings of a huge storm on the way. His words sounded fearful. I'm certain that playing into the feelings is the horror being experienced in the Far East as the result of the earthquake and tsunami. He lives at the edge of the Pacific.

I have an irrational fear of storms brought on by having lived through a major hurricane at around the age of 6 in New Orleans. Never recovered. At the first low rumble of faraway thunder, I begin to have sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat pounding in my ears, and a heightened sense of immediate danger. Whatever the time of day I head for bed, climb in and pull the covers up over my head and cover my ears as tightly as possible. It's by now a conditioned reaction and as automatic as the sun rising in the east. On those rare times when I've been caught away from home or on the highway, panic reigns!

Then I remember my grandmother's voice saying to that frightened little girl, "...climb into bed, Betty. No one has ever been known to be struck by lightning while in their bed." Wise woman. Her voice comes back even now, and as if caught in a time warp -- I'm still obeying that voice. The storms never got me, so those words above all others have proven to be true.

Today, since I'm examining that reflexive response in the abstract, I heard something else. I heard a very wise grownup creatively getting frightened little folks safely out of the way so that the big folks could do the things that must be done to protect the family from rising waters. How rational. How wise and wonderful.

Wonder now why it took so long to surface? Was it because the only time the behavior appeared were those times when the rare conditions prevailed and the psyche was on automatic pilot? Interesting... .

I think now about how many times -- when the sky's are dark and the wind rising -- whatever the time of day -- I quietly and casually climb into bed with a good book and an ear acutely tuned for the advancing storm ... still acting out of conditioning. And, when the thunder closes in -- how naturally I pull the covers up over my head, cover my ears, and cower against a terrifying world!

Makes me wonder about other physical reactions to traumatic events in life ...

...could this be what psychotherapists are ever probing for?

... one of those elegant simplicities in life?

I'm reminded again of Rendl-Nast's axiom -- "There are two forms of simplicity, one that comes before and one that comes after -- complexity."

...suppose this is an after?

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