A tornado-producing storm blew threw my town last night. A funnel cloud touched down several blocks from my house. I'd taken shelter in the basement, but my wife and stepson were on the way home from work, so when they got there I ran out to usher them in (what a hero!).
That's when I heard it...
At first, I thought it was a continuous roll of thunder, as if a new crash would start before the previous one had died away. It soon dawned on me that what I was hearing wasn't thunder but the howling tornado itself.
I wondered if words would fail me when I sat down to describe it, and they have. I stood out there listening for as long as I dared. The roar got louder and louder as it approached (by this time it was touching down near Lee's Summit hospital). At some point the sound spiked all of the sudden and I ran inside. I spent the rest of the night thinking about that sound and how it made me feel.
The best word is "awe." It was awesome, not in the colloquial "badass" sense but in the old-school "inspiring awe" sense. Some primal part of me, in that final sound-spike, felt a fight-or-flight (mostly flight) response that filled my entire body, brain - my entire self.
Hearing the tornado, standing out near it, I felt that I was not a
self-contained entity, locked up inside my flesh and clearly separated
from the rest of the world. In those few moments I felt no division
between myself and nature. We were all...I don't know. Just "one big
That moment marks the closest connection I have ever felt to nature. It's no wonder our ancestors attributed such power to the gods. As I ran inside I realized that no one on Earth can stop that tornado. No one can prevent it. There's nothing anyone can do about that tornado - it's coming, and it will eat up whatever lies in the way.
All of these thoughts seem rather obvious, of course. But there's a difference between understanding things like tornadoes (or "science facts" in general) on an intellectual level, and feeling them on a gut level. It's a sort of understanding that, in a way, seems to trump any other. The only other event I've ever witnessed that hit me with such force was watching the birth of my son.
And that's about the best I can do to describe my feelings about that tornado.
Incidentally, there was some damage from that storm but thankfully no one was killed.