Storms Don’t Last Forever

Hannah Green reflects on the journey of life and the storms we must weather along the way.

By on February 9, 2023 | Comments

February 2023

The snow flies in my face as I crutch down the empty road. My arms are tired from the crutches, and my brain is tired from navigating the mental hoops of life. As I slowly make my way home from a friend’s house, I daydream of the adventures once I heal up.

I only have recently made the analogy that life is one big traverse. Over the course of our lifetimes, we’ll climb countless summits and descend into long, low valleys. Along the way, we’ll experience eagles swooping alongside us and bears wrecking our food. Friends and lovers will drift into the sunset, and family will flow steadily along by our sides like the perennial streams. Thunderstorms will come and have us running for cover while simultaneously watering the seeds of life to come.

April 2022

I sidehill along the edge of the cliff, taking care not to slip on the loose rocks beneath my feet. The day is heating up, and I am already feeling exhausted. As I walk through a group of cholla, the pokey balls it spits out somehow manage to attach themselves to my ankles. I use a couple of rocks like tongs to pry the dang balls off. A couple of minutes later, I brush too closely to one of the plants and get the cactus stuck in my elbow. I yell at the plant, exasperated. I’m almost to the end of my thru-hike of the Grand Canyon, and I am worn out. I want to just walk on level ground. We have bad days, weeks, months, and years of life. But sprinkled in between are the moments when you stop and laugh at yourself as you’re cursing a cactus.

The Colorado River, which flows through the Grand Canyon.

The Colorado River, which flows through the Grand Canyon. All photos: Hannah Green

February 2023

Recently I was talking with some running friends about how seriously we should, or rather think we should take running. We talked about how we’ve all considered hiring coaches and committing fully to running, but how it’s difficult to focus solely on something without taking it too seriously and inherently losing some of the fun and freedom. Some personalities can just coach themselves. They’ll set up a plan and follow through, while others need external accountability to get them out the door and training. And to be honest, I don’t really know if either works for me. My right-brained personality has me scattered with sometimes too many ways to occupy my time, but at the same time, I love the tunnel vision of specific goals to keep me on track. This is also why I love traveling for weeks and months by foot because it placates both my restless body by moving every day and focuses my mind on a singular, specific goal.

We traverse in and out of motivation like crisscrossing a river for an entire day. Sometimes it’s a boggy swamp with no way around but through, and sometimes it’s a summit that, once reached, has to be tediously down climbed to get to the next peak. Your traverse will always have a slight variation compared to anyone else’s, and you’ll inevitably encounter many a different storm.

As I finally crutch to my front door, my arms exhausted from the slow walk home, I stumble into the house. It’s okay, I remind myself, to cry and feel everything, but it’s also okay to feel the happiness when it comes. I have programmed myself to be a pessimist, and mostly I think I am reminded not to have too many expectations. And as a result, I am surprised when things turn out, when people are nice, when injuries heal, and when people encourage me to keep going despite asking myself constantly, “Is it worth it?”

It is worth it. It’s just a matter of embracing the sunny days after the downpours and remembering they will come.

Storms don’t last forever.

Yellow flowers with mountains in the background.

The first flowers of spring.

I think I have used this quote here in my column before, but on that note, it is my favorite:

“I have been fighting my way up tall hills, between canyons of skyscrapers, hurling myself against the battling night winds, the raw, swooping gusts that are like cold steel on my cheeks. I am drunk with a searing intoxication that liquor could never bring — drunk with the fiery elixir of beauty, the destroying draught of power, and the soul-piercing inevitability of music. Often I am tortured to think that what I so deeply feel must always remain, for the most, unshared, uncommunicated. Yet, at least I have felt, have heard and seen and known, beauty that is inconceivable, that no words and no creative medium are able to convey. Knowing that the cards are stacked, and realized achievements are mere shadows of the dream, I still try to give some faint but tangible suggestion of what has burned without destroying me.

“But I realize that what I have felt must grow within one, and it is folly that will be scorned and misinterpreted to seek to tell of it.

“Such is my cry, such is my plaint, and I know there is no reply. Mine seems a task essentially futile. Try as I may, I have never yet, that I know of, succeeded in conveying more than a glimpse of my visions. I am condemned to feel the withering fire of beauty pouring into me. I am condemned to the need of putting this fire outside myself and spreading it somewhere, somehow, and I am torn by the knowledge that what I have felt cannot be given to another. I cannot bear to contain these rending flames, and I am helpless to let them out. So, I wonder how I can go on living and being casual as one must.” — Everett Ruess, “A Vagabond for Beauty”

Call for Comments

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Hannah Green
Hannah Green wanders long distances by foot and takes photos along the way. When not outside, you can likely find her at the nearby coffee shop. Find more on Instagram and at Hannah Green Art.