In Retrospect: Thoughts on a Thunderstorm

Three years ago I wrote this about getting caught in a massive thunderstorm while camping:

This alien jellyfish in the sky, with tentacles of white light, crawled through the sky in the distance, and above it, set against a bowl of almost complete darkness, I watched Ursa Minor, the little bear, arc upwards and into clear view. I thought about the universe expanding and contracting and expanding again ad infinitum, and felt as one always does when laying on one’s back in the grass in the middle of the night: reverent.

And then it came: after all had gone to sleep—or at least had turned the flashlights out in their tents—first lightning, and then gusts of wind, and then rain, and more rain, and even more rain, and suddenly the pulsating monster I had watched a few hours earlier from a safe distance, the jellyfish with light-tentacles, was upon us.

My writing was much more colorful then; now, I just try as quickly as possible to get to the point. And I haven’t been caught in any thunderstorms since, but I have slept outside, with no cover, for seemingly never-ending nights, when every rustled leaf or cracked twig sends the imagination into horrifying whirlwinds in the darkness. We can create any new technology we want, but the night’s strangeness is still—and always will be—equally scary.


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