Outer and inner calms often determine our experience.
As I consider calm, I must also consider turbulence. In becoming familiar with either, certainly both must be experienced. The two are part of the whole. How can one exist without knowing the other? How does one separate good from eveill Hot without cold?….soft without hard?...tall without short?….on without off?…..free without restraint?….life without death?….happy without anger?….love without fear?...yes without no?....all opposite pairs.
An overladen party boat "raps music" onto an evening’s quietude; a jet flying low overhead rattles my catamaran's rigging; an early Sunday morning jet skier wakes a tranquil anchorage; a nearby barge celebrates a shoreside nuptial by launching midnight fireworks, a police boarding party armed with machine guns accuses me of illegal activity, trashes my boat, then departs without an apology; a daughter who refuses to talk with me and keep me from my granddaughters; rich entitled businessmen intimidate and disrespect women with their sexual addictions; a Trump presidency spews hate; Hurricane Irma devastates much of southern Florida; then a few days later Hurricane Maria decimates more of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. While none of these events feels calming or encouraging, I attempt to experience them with calm acceptance. Fighting against something accomplishes nothing.
As undesirable and disruptive as these events may have been, they all helped reinforce and remind me that much of life can't exist without opposing forces. Whether a storm ranges from disturbing to destructive, each comes with our own unique perspective. We all see an event similar to how we view life. In Nature a calm always precedes or follows a storm. It is neither stormy or calm all of the time. Human nature, on the other hand, can choose to be calm in the midst of turmoil.
Whether we realize it or not, we view reality through a lens - either happy, angry, sad or fearful. Whether we know how to approach disturbances with a calm demeanor, our way of seeing things is totally dependent upon us - a combination of our personality, character, attitude/mood perception, history, worldview. While we don't all see life the same.
Certainly, without wind, sails would not fill. The nautical skills of skippers and sailors would not be honed without their wind. Sailors and their ships would go nowhere fast. Many sailboats would certainly stay docked, moored or anchored. While sailing would definitely suffer, probably come to an end, a calm might help calm the minds and spirits for a while. But restless is the human being who has yet to face a peaceful adversary. What would happen to hatred and anger if the world accepted only peace and tranquility? Even a calming breeze refreshes the soul and even pacifies the pacific.
Earth's weather, like human nature, is never entirely one or the other - neither tumultuous or calm. Both keep stormy and calm balanced. In many ways the weather's variety helps Earth to survive. In many ways calm helps humans deal with stormy disturbing thoughts and feelings.
These pairings are related to each other. While each is the absence of the other. it seems each cannot exist without its opposite. So each apparently appears to connect to what it isn’t. Each does not appear to stand alone, but it is not true. They may seem related, but they each can exist by themselves. Humans define these opposites like they define early and late…. or deep and shallow….or rich or poor…dark or light.
Ever try to look straight into Nature's eye for some of life's answers? They are there if you can see and interpret what messages she is sending. When one is truly intimate with Nature, life truths often reveal themselves. For instance, Nature provides valuable lessons within weather such as calms. While Nature calms the earth, it frequently reveals the importance of calm and peace. Within the most destructive storms, Nature demonstrates its most powerful lessons. The eye of a hurricane is probably the best example of where calm is most unlikely. See if you see the lesson: the tumult of a hurricane carries a calm center. Surrounded by chaos is peace. In the middle of any hurricane, a calm exists. Calm accompanies chaos. Devastating forces surround a spoke, an eye a center-peace, a calm. In the middle is where a respite resides. While this temporary center calm moves. it moves within the storm. To stay calm in the midst of turbulence is part of her message. Being calm is located in the center of chaos. The storms inside us need an inner calm. And we all need to be calm when chaos is all around us And calm often begets calm. A calm is one of Nature's most powerful ways of communication.
Do we know chaos helps calm us? Do we know how to calm ourselves in the midst of chaos? Can we even recognize the difference between calm and chaos? Can we realize Nature is the basis for comprehending calm and chaos, then one knows that a storm need not brew and blow your bow to appreciate its complete opposite. Calm can actually be enjoyed for its own merit. Let's look at my photos and observe some of calm's traits and see if you agree.
Calm is sometimes defined in contrast to chaos. Peace, tranquility and serenity are not defined by a lack of turmoil, but one can certainly appreciate calm as the absence. In short, when joined with correct perspective, calm actually begets calm. For example, if the weather is the basis for understanding calm, then one knows that a storm need not brew and blow your bow to appreciate its complete opposite. Calm can actually be enjoyed for its own merit. After all calm begets calm.
Calm, while often associated with "storm" can actually exist quite well without its opposite. Any human being can actually experience and even appreciate one without the other. Though it may seem improbable for some to conceive any two paired couples as separate entities, each actually can exist and survive on its own merits.
Macaroni without cheese, peanut butter without jelly or salt without pepper suit well on their own. Then salt water may appear as two separate entities, it is actually one. While opposites or differences help define each other, they also may detract and distract from their own uniqueness. Pepper and salt are often coupled, but while they not really opposites; they are both spices and usually connected simply by being presented together on a table.
It seems equally true we seldom hear about a calm during the storm or a calm after the chaos or even the calm after the calm. The doldrums is a place without much wind, but with a slow sea current which might have held an unsuspecting sailing vessel captive for days or weeks.
While calm may concede, precede or secede a blow, a calm is also a significant part of flow. Weather and the sea aren't all about extremes; they're also about the calming - the slowing of wind and water forces - the quieting peace-makers.
Serenity might be less known or appreciated, if calm did not appear. Could one see a slack tide, a halcyon puff, a glassy bay drifter, a reflective sunrise or sunset as nature taking your breath away as it's catching its breath? Nature too might need a gentle exhale, a peaceful interlude, an intermission of sorts, maybe a time out or even a thankful respite every once in awhile.
Not necessarily before a contrasting chaos but an extension of a comfort level. One does not need drama to appreciate calm, cool and collected. One can be peaceful without storm. To stay calm in the midst of chaos is one of human nature's greatest challenges. Using a storm to rise above the chaos may be truly a heroic act. But appreciating the calm outside or being calm within are both beautiful.