My Greatest Fear #62: Thunder and Lightning

I readily admit that most of my “greatest fears” are irrational and outlandish, like potato eyes, left turns, and face paint. Today’s fear is probably a bit more common, though you might react very differently to it than I do.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve really not liked thunderstorms. Part of it is my fear of lightning. But I also really don’t like loud noises, which just happens to be thunder’s specialty.

Last night, a tremendous thunderstorm swept through St. Louis. Rain was pelting down outside my window as I played on the computer, and I could hear thunder in the distance.

You know how usually you see lightning and then, a few seconds later, the thunder follows? The lightning serves as a warning. Well, there was a particular bolt of lightning that was accompanied simultaneously by thunder. It was that close to my building, and my reaction was to sprint as far away from the window as possible.

Think about that for a second. My fear of thunder is so ingrained in me that my subconsciousness thought my legs were fast enough to beat thunder in a footrace. I was a sprinter back in the day, but even I am not that fast.

I’m not ashamed (okay, perhaps a little) to admit that I ended up spending a few minutes huddled in a back room with my cats while the storm passed. Here’s a photo I took of me and Walter during that time. I really don’t like thunder.

How do you feel about thunder/lightning? Have your reflexes ever taken over and resulted in an odd reaction to a fear?


12 Responses to “My Greatest Fear #62: Thunder and Lightning”

  1. Erin H. says:

    T-Storms I actually enjoy, even the close stuff, but if someone really really startles me, I cannot avoid the “fight or flight” response…which is flight. Once, my now EX husband scared me when I was in the shower and I ended up curled up in the shower floor in a fetal position. Da jerk.

    Glad you and the furrballs survived the storm! Maybe they make human-sized thundershirts!

  2. Nik says:

    I’ve never been afraid of thunder or lightning. Lightning is a legitimate concern, thunder is just noise. It’s odd that fear of thunder is so common that it’s probably a genetic survival instinct but you wouldn’t hear it until after you were dead. Maybe it’s just instinct to get to cover when you start hearing it long before it’s close but we’ve been trained not to fear it until it’s so close that you can’t fight the fear.

    Both of my sons are scared of thunder and I am working on them understanding the science behind it so that maybe understanding it will make it less scary. One of them is literally named thunder, German version, so he needs to get over it.

    A number of years ago I was outside during a storm and lightning struck a tree about 30 feet from me. Scared the ever living S**** out of me but was also one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. One of the real displays of nature’s obscene power that I was actually able to witness.

    Living in South Louisiana I’ve seen my share of storms ranging from your normal spring/summer thunder storms on a normal daily basis up to most of the major hurricanes to hit the us for the past 40 years. My fear is wind and tornadoes. I’ve never seen a tornado but I’ve seen wind gusts tear roofs off of buildings around me and the idea of a tornado scares me to the core.

    It’s to the point that when a strong storm shows up out of the blue I turn on all the tvs in the house to the local weather broadcast, crank the volume and fret internally that every room in my house is an external room with windows and that there are only a few places in my house that a tree shouldn’t be able to fall on and kill us in. Trying to nonchalantly heard the family around the house without letting the kids on to my fear that we run the risk of death if things go south isn’t the easiest thing in the world. “Daddy is literally scared for our lives but don’t worry about the thunder,” isn’t really something I can sell well.

    Don’t worry about thunder. Wind is the killer.

    I applaud you for openly discussing your fears in your blog, not many people would be willing to do that. I find some of your fears baseless and odd but that’s what fears usually are.

    I’m legitimately, in my mind, scared of fast moving air.

    • Nik says:

      On the other hand, if it’s a hurricane I make sure the house is stocked with the essentials plus lots of alcohol and enjoy my day off until it gets windy.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Nik: I’ve heard that when lightning is about to strike nearby, you can feel a unique sensation. Did you “feel” it coming when it struck so close to you?

      • Nik says:

        I don’t recall feeling anything but I probably wasn’t paying attention because I didn’t expect anything to happen.

  3. Nik says:

    Completely unrelated but tangential greatest fear: Public toilets.

  4. Oh no! Bless ya, you do look bit freaked out 🙁 I hope you and the kitties recovered. I have a few fears, but have always been really excited by thunder and lightening. If I could go back in time I’d forge a career in storm chasing!

  5. Candy Mercer says:

    I had a good laugh at your expense, which I think was what you wanted by the tone of your post. Well written! Good pic too!

  6. RodeoClown says:

    I love thunderstorms. I think they are amazing. A few times I’ve been able to get outside and watch one getting close without getting drenched, and it was awesome.

    The biggest downside to our current house is how hard it is to find a good spot to watch the lightning in the distance.

  7. CanIBeBlue says:

    I understand it, it makes total sense and appears to me to be the sanest reaction to something this life threatening. However, I have the complete opposite reaction. I am drawn to thunder storms, I get out when they pass, open my hair and enjoy the winds and the rain messing it up. I’d never endanger myself going out onto plains, but in a city I feel safe. I love nature roughhousing me like a loving parent that tickles their child. It’s such an archaic experience.

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