Lightning Storms In Late Winter
A few weeks ago, we had a lightning storm here in the mountains. It was still February, but an eerie warm front had swept through, melting the hillsides and changing the texture of the sky. I was sitting on the couch drinking a cup of tea when suddenly the clouds began flickering. I looked out the window, open-mouthed. Was that…. lightning?? It was a strange feeling, to see an electrical storm in late winter. It felt like time itself was bending. I was enchanted and confused, and maybe a bit scared. But mostly, I was charged.
Our lives have their own kind of weather patterns. There are times of mildness and easeful sunshine that touch you gently. And then there are winds that cut across your collarbones and unexpected lightning storms. In a way, life is one big weather event after another. Each time a storm comes in we get to witness what touches us, what gets under our skin.
We are so often told that there is good and bad weather. Just as we try to avoid “bad” weather, we are similarly programmed to avoid the squalls of “negative” emotions in our lives. But what if there is no such thing as good and bad? What if there is only neutral and charged? And what if that charge, like an electrical socket you fear to touch, is actually a conduit that has the ability to illuminate your real power?
If you are looking to grow in leaps and bounds, like lightning moving over the desert, you don’t have to dig very deep, or even venture very far, just find the charge.
You know a charge when you feel it, as surely as a shock from a flimsy socket. The charged things in our lives stop us in our tracks. They are stupefying, confusing, electric, and sometimes painful. But one thing is sure, when something is charged you know it because you react to it. My partner makes an offhand comment about the meal. Zing, a charge. I watch a story on the news about insect extinction. Zap, a charge. I gaze longingly at my friend’s dream vacation in Bali while I’m stuck at home cleaning the bathrooms. Boom, this is a charge.
The amazing thing is, the very moment you are able to name it as a charge is the moment it begins to loosen its grip on you. Sometimes if we can just name the sensation, instead of immediately assigning meaning, we can actually begin to see where the pressure front is coming from.
The funny part about the word “charge” is the way it makes the hard things not only bearable, but approachable. In our language, we often cloak charges in judgment. The things or people that trigger us are challenging, painful, annoying, depressing, unfair and uncomfortable. But, like lightning rumbling in the belly of a cloud, all charges actually come from within. They are signals from our emotional selves that this material is somehow important for you, and, if approached with self-compassion, charges will help you identify where you have blocked your own life force.
There are, of course, positive charges as well, such as joy, love, excitement, and passion. The problem is that most of us spend our lives trying to juice up on the good charge— falling in love, watching our children grow, seeing a rainbow— and avoid the bad charges, including the things that trigger sadness, anger, guilt or fear. But what if the “negative” charges held just as much healing for us, or even more? If you can stay curious, a charge can illuminate even the most dimly lit corners of your self-awareness.
The shift from winter into spring is a charged time. It’s as if a vast electrical pulse starts to move through the earth and all the dormant things, the daffodils and the mosquitoes both, begin to stir. Spring asks us to step out of the quietude of winter and be open to the electricity of life, and all the charges that can bring.
It’s normal to be reluctant to lean into what jolts you, but we often forget that charges were never meant to be permanent. They can be as quick as a flame, or as brief as spring, if we only allow ourselves to feel them. It is, after all, rare for lightning to strike twice. If you can let a charge move through you completely, you will find so much power, and freedom, waiting for you on the other side.
Recently I had an old friend reach out to reconnect. We have been through a lot, this friend and I. You could say the karma runs deep. While we were talking the old patterns started to come up, the ways of interacting with each other that would usually send me into fits of exasperation or defensiveness. I amazed even myself when I felt… neutral. The very comments that used to trigger spasms of pain and self-doubt in me, no longer did. I wasn’t triggered. I wasn’t frustrated. I wasn’t charged. I was free. Free to love them exactly as they are, and free to love myself and the way that my truth differed from theirs. The same energy that once charged me with defensive pain was now helping me to see my own patterns of self-criticism and people pleasing. That same energy was free to illuminate a new way of being. And I embraced its warming electricity wholeheartedly.
What is making you feel charged this month? Where are your inner storms of emotions originating? And can you begin to, instead of avoiding them, actually move towards them? Can you embrace them like a lightning storm in late winter, allowing all that energy to ground you in the possibility of unequivocal self-acceptance? Because real freedom comes when the things that used to shake you, no longer hold any juice. When you are willing to walk into the lightning storm and let it touch you, change you, teach you and then release you to walk brightly into a flower-filled spring.