Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I admit it. I am completely, deathly afraid of lightning. I've been this way since I was a kid. Raging thunderstorms, relatively common in my hometown of Toronto, often sent me scurrying to the darkest corner of my room, as far away from the window as possible. There are many who experience the same reaction to a frightening event such as this. I do so for what I believe is a very good reason.

Many years ago, my younger sister Diana and I were sitting on my parents' bed playing cards. We were perhaps 8 and 6 years old. A thunderstorm exploded outside, but we paid little attention. Our card game was much more important. Until it happened.

A lightning bolt. Not too wide, but bright as the sun, passed through the window. It sparked on the floor, not five feet away from the bed. The bed on which we were sitting. In our own home.

We made a hasty, panicked exit, told our parents, and then continued our activities in the basement. Far, far away from the windows.

I've been deathly afraid of lightning ever since. It's no wonder I sometimes sought refuge under my bed in the middle of a nighttime storm, when I didn't feel safe running down to the basement. Anywhere, away from the windows. That was where I needed to be.

The story doesn't end here. Several years later, I was at the drive-in theater with a friend. We watched the main headlining movie, then one of the 'filler' movies started. One we didn't particularly enjoy, but stayed for the sake of the experience. Until it started.

Lightning streaked across the cloudy night sky. Thunder boomed from all directions, completely drowning out the sound of the movie. There was little rain that I remember, just this fantastic display of light and sound all around us. My friend was enthralled, in absolute awe of the wonders of Mother Nature. I suggested we leave. My excuse was that the movie stunk.

Driving home on a two-lane highway, we were in the left lane. I was speeding, trying to get home as soon as possible. But I couldn't outrun the force of nature. A huge bolt of lightning, much wider than the one from my parents' room, streaked down from the skies. It hit a cable box on the right hand side of the road just as we passed it, causing a spectacular shower of sparks all around it. I screamed in utter terror.

It had happened again ! Lightning had come perilously close to finding me, and only luck, chance, or an act of a heavenly being prevented me from feeling its wrath. Since then, I am reduced to a quivering mass of fear whenever a storm starts brewing.

Fortunately, I live in an area now where thunderstorms are very rare. I've only seen two big storms in the almost-6 years I've been here.

The fewer the better. I think my luck has reached its limit.


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