The Eye of the Storm ~
Hurricanes form over water. Warm air flowing over warm, tropical or sub-tropical waters can absorb enough moisture to form dense rain clouds. When enough moisture is collected over enough heat, the air involved can begin to swirl. This swirling motion turns a storm into what is called a cyclone.
What turns a cyclone into a hurricane? Velocity. In other words, what turns a storm into something potentially dangerous is acceleration.
The first stage in the development of a tropical cyclone is a Disturbance. It is caused by a weather phenomenon called a tropical wave. A low pressure front sweeping east to west generates windspeed. The disturbance is generally characterized by groups of thunderstorms with gusting winds and rain.
The next stage of cyclonic development is the Tropical Depression. With increased windspeed comes the spiraling motion we recognize. A closed circulating pattern of movement. The storm begins to circulate around a centralized low pressure area. The pattern chasing its tail with no apparent resolution.
A Tropical Storm forms when the Tropical Depression continues and picks up speed. Tropical storms produce extremely heavy rains from condensation of warm, moist sea air. The storms are characterized by damaging, gusty winds.
A Tropical Storm is said to be a Cyclone when it gains size and organized mass. Organized. As in the mass of the storm, circulating around what is now called the ‘eye’, becomes a constant and continues to pick up speed.
The difference between a Cyclone and a Hurricane is windspeed. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that can cover thousands of square miles. That’s a lot of pent-up energy!
Cyclonic storms begin to disperse when they make landfall because there is not enough water vapor to be funneled into the system to keep it fueled.
Does this sound like any argument you’ve ever had?
Weathering the emotional nature of a world in transition can be a bit like weathering a storm.
The first stage in the development of an argument is heat. Heated feelings. Heated words. The heat fuels the tension in the air. This tension soon becomes the most important feeling in the room. Everyone wants it to break. The tides of emotion run high even when, or perhaps especially when, everyone is trying to do the polite thing.
What happens next is that fixed ideas, concepts and definitions get tweaked and the emotional surge picks up speed. It begins to circle around the offending idea or concept(s).
Cyclones are defined by thunderstorms and gusting winds.
My two male terriers used to run cyclones through the house. Rolling, wrestling, and spinning in circles, they growled and roared and grappled their way up and down any open area. They were having fun, so when their spinning play hit an obstacle they simply bounced off. No harm done. Or, if someone was bopped on the head, there was a temporary hiatus while everyone shook it off.
Water is the element of emotion. Air is the element of ideas. When heated emotions mix with heated ideas, storms ensue. Battle lines are drawn around who should or shouldn’t, right and wrong, good and bad. When duality mixes it up, spinning occurs. The stronger the fixed positions, the faster the spin.
Anger turned outward is the gusting wind and rain. Anger turned inward is the depression of self-blame or, at its worst, self-hate.
So what is it about the eye of the storm and how can we stay in it long enough to keep our heads above the waves?
According to Wikipedia, “The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur.”
The greatest turbulence, surrounding the greatest calm. Interesting. Anyone who has been near a hurricane or funnel cloud (tornado) will tell you that walking up to said storm (from the outside) and saying “Spin as much as you want to, I’m going to remain calm” is a good receipe for disaster.
The same holds true of approaching an argument in such a way. In the eyes of the storm combatants, the ‘holder of calm’ is merely another fixed position to be dealt with. More warm water. More strong winds. More fuel. Suck that right in!
Why is the eye calm? “The eye is so calm because the now strong surface winds that converge towards the center never reach it. The coriolis force deflects the wind slightly away from the center, causing the wind to rotate around the center of the hurricane (the eye wall), leaving the exact center (the eye) calm.” ~ Wikipedia
The most dangerous winds in such a storm occur within the eyewall. These are the strongest currents of force in the storm, the argument or the confrontation. The central space, or ‘eye’ forms when more heat is sucked up into the swirling force of the storm.
What if the ‘eye’ could be tapped into from the beginning? What if there were no heated emotions to be sucked up into heated ideas?
What if we learned to dissipate our emotional cyclones before they became disastrous?
What if heat were channeled into passion and creativity instead of into opposed, armed, camps?
What if our emotional weather is part of the grand design of the weather of the world?
Would we pay more attention to the calm? The light breezes? The turbulence of play?
FDR is quoted as saying “Calm seas never made a good sailor”. And yet, they teach us to row well together.
May all storms make landfall on the bedrock of truth and clarity.
May we learn to dissipate and mitigate rather than escalate.
May we honor all positions without the need to apply heat or wind to inflate our own.
May we finally grow up enough to stop brewing storms over nothing.
Maybe the weather would do the same?