• Mary Anderson

How to Sense a Coming Storm

I have seen animals go silent just before the earth started to shake. They sensed the tremors coming. In some parts of the world, people maintain the instinct to feel an impending earthquake or tsunami. I believe that we are all born with a wealth of protective instinct and that most of us become disconnected from it as we are immersed in daily culture.

Of course, certain activities hone our native instincts. When I start slipping on a steep and rocky descent, my years of skiing help me get my weight where it belongs and remain upright. The instincts I’ve developed from months of living outdoors help me recognize a movement, shape, or sound out of the ordinary, and so I spot the bear from a distance. People in cities instinctively know when to jump out of the way of a car.

As I live a simpler life immersed in nature, beyond the hustle and bustle of my nonhiking life, I feel more connected to my instincts. They tell me a storm is coming in the mountains and not to cross the ridge even when my satellite device tells me there is no rain in sight. So far I’ve been right every time, although I haven’t always acted accordingly. Instead, I've failed to fully appreciate my own instincts until after the event has passed.

I wonder if the more skills we develop the better off we are when instincts need to kick in. And I wonder how we can raise our children to be more connected to their natural instincts.

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