Standing on the side of service road somewhere in the heart of tornado alley, I find myself staring out at an open field and the storm forming on the horizon. My skin feels sticky and the dust from the road clings to me, but I don’t care. I’m mesmerized. I can understand why some might think I’m crazy to say that standing under a storm resembles a form of meditation, but in those moments everything seems to stand still and my thoughts fall completely silent. I’m connected. I can feel my feet on the ground and the wind in my hair. My senses become so intense and the smell of the earth around me brings a sensation so comforting, it reminds me of home. I feel so full of joy that all I can do is smile
But these moments of elation are preceded by a great deal of perseverance. It takes a combination of passion, commitment and resilience to chase. You drive for hours and hours on end, consuming gas station fare and braving truck stop bathrooms. You pour over weather models, obsess over radar and gaze longingly at the sky, desperate for Mother Nature to come through. And yet on occasion, even when you’ve given all you’ve got, you bust. You settle for the rainbow you saw and make peace with the disappointment. You learn to be optimistic and you get back on the road to get in position for the next chase. It’s not for the faint of heart and determination is required.
When people ask me why I chase storms, I’m always reminded of a quote from mountaineer and author, Ed Viesturs. When asked what inspires him to climb Ed had this to say: "If you have to ask, you'll never know. You either get it or you don't get it. We get something out of it that's unexplainable. The journey, the process, the hard work, a little bit of suffering. But in the end, this amazing feeling of accomplishment." Ed’s words resonate with me and perfectly describe how I feel about chasing.
I’m convinced that storm chasing and dream chasing are a lot alike and resilience is the greatest common denominator. Storms, just like dreams, make you work for them. Sure, on occasion you can be in the right place at the right time and they come to you, but for the most part, catching a dream requires you to show up, work hard and stay optimistic.
Standing on stage, I find the same kind of peace and tranquility that I find standing under a storm. My quest for the Grand Ole Opry stage is a chase that I pursue daily and I pour everything I have into that dream. Some days it feels so close I could just reach out and touch it and on others it feels like everything I try comes up empty. Still, no matter how much disappointment I face I keep chasing. Even if at times my dreams seem as elusive as the perfect storm, I know my dream is my reality in the making. It’s my destiny and it’s out there for the taking. The chase is an equally important part of the overall experience because like they say, the reward is in the journey. So never stop chasing what you love. Go after it with everything you’ve got because if you never chase your dreams, you’ll never catch them.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see ya at the Opry!
A Little Side Note: I'd like to extend a special thank you to Damian Butt, who graciously provided the beautiful photos featured in this post. I was lucky enough to chase with Damian last year and he and his camera captured the storms we saw so much better than my trusty iPhone. So thank you, Damian for sharing your photos with my readers and I!