Going through a storm? This too shall pass

Stressed teenager

Nothing is perfect, permanently satisfying, or permanently anything. Everything falls apart in time. Every beginning leads to a finale. 

Photo credit: Pool

On a clear day, the ocean can be deceptively calm and inviting. You can be forgiven for thinking that it never harmed anyone.

However, on a stormy night, everything changes. The water becomes dark, cloudy and angry. Waves rise to unfathomable heights and the only light comes from the slivers of lightning that pierce the night sky.

I came face to face with the duality of the sea when I took an ocean liner to Zanzibar one holiday, many moons ago. When we left in the morning, the cruise ship seemed like the Titanic, huge and imposing against the clear blue waters. “What could possibly go wrong that the ship couldn’t handle?” I wondered.

In addition, Zanzibar is a stone's throw away from Dar es salaam where we were to sail from. It was not the high seas on the way to India, where one could be swept away by the Monsoon winds. The trip to Zanzibar as expected, was smooth and enjoyable, lasting about two hours.

After spending several days in the spice islands, it was time to return back and catch our flights to Nairobi. Nothing could have prepared me for the tumultuous trip back. Rain was forecasted but this ship could handle anything, right? Wrong. As we sailed into the middle of it, losing sight of any land, we were caught in the force of the storm.

The sky had darkened into a stormy grey similar to the waves pounding the ship, tossing it up and down. At any one point, one side of the boat was underwater, and the other tilted towards the sky.

Things got particularly choppy at one point when one of the passengers informed us that we were crossing an underground river. People began to cry and pray, and some of us literally got seasick. Those two hours were some of the longest of my life.

When we disembarked, alive and safe, I promised myself that I would never again go to the enchanting spice island by boat. However, there was a particularly poignant lesson from the experience. It was this: no matter how bad things are when you are in the middle of them, they will come to an end. Nothing lasts forever. Not storms. Not great weather.

When you are in one season, it’s easy to imagine that things will never change. Yet nature has a way of reminding us, especially through the weather patterns, that everything shifts. In 2008, the world entered a financial crisis that saw many lose jobs. We didn’t expect another financial crisis in our lifetime, yet many experts are warning of a recession. Here we go again.

Psychotherapist and author David Richo writes in The Five Things We Can Not Change And The Happiness We Find In Embracing Them, “The first giving of life is that changes and endings are inevitable for any person, relationship, enthusiasm, or thing.

Nothing is perfect, permanently satisfying, or permanently anything. Everything falls apart in time. Every beginning leads to a finale. Built into all experiences, persons, places, and things is a life span.”

Those two hours in the Indian Ocean brought home this truth more vividly than any teacher ever could. Storms come to pass. When we have done everything we know to do, the only thing left is to wait it out.


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