Determining the World Around Us

[A Retrospective] This season of hurricanes and super-typhoons led me to reflection…The reason is unimportant, it was our assignment and we ventured out, knowing that it wouldn’t be fun. When super-typhoon Bart was setting course for our island, the response was to evacuate the airplanes to safer harbors. Our assigned safe harbor was a little different and required us to fly through the advancing weather in order to reach it. That may make the day’s work sound a little benign…From the moment we entered that clouds, the screaming static on the radios deafened us while Saint Elmo’s Fire brilliantly and erratically streamed from every visible screw and frictious exposed edge of skin around our windscreens. Ice accumulated in great pikes of rime in the slipstream. Wings visibly flapped in response to the shocks of rapidly rising and falling turbulence. The winds built to over a hundred and forty-five knots. Storm cells saturated our radar like narrowly separated frog eggs floating in a murky pond as our radar operator deftly led us through zigging and zagging course changes to avoid the worst of it. The atmosphere was violent, but it merely conveyed the tremorous warning waves of something greater that was building in force hundreds of miles to our south. Suddenly, as if falling into a deep hole, we found ourselves in the clear…the winds abruptly dropped off to zero knots. Two things stand out in my memory…the anxious quizzical looks we exchanged in the cockpit and the solid black wall of churning cloud that we observed on all fronts. We lived in that moment of recoil and relief, knowing that we would be back to work the moment we penetrated the wall on the other side of the clearing. The effect was that a mini cyclone had formed out in front of the known typhoon…super-typhoons can be like this, so massive and energy laden that the spiraling cyclonic forces create their own eddying systems on the periphery of the storm…in their motion and energy, they prove a determining force in the atmosphere…We, too, stir up forces that seem unrelated to us as we move along the way, creating other atmospheres in our wake…the moods and messages that we transmit determine whether we spin off violent storms or soothing summer breezes…whether we foment discontent or share our peace. How we travel along our paths determines the world we create around us.

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