Sep 2, 2008

Terrifying and Beautiful

by Terri Wagner

There are things in our lives that exemplify the universal law of opposition. I experienced one such event this past weekend. Gustav came to visit. While he made landfall many miles away, his feeder bands as they are called, visited my Gulf Coast region. In fact, even today, we are still having some wind and rain.

Yesterday, a friend and I went down to Gulf Shores. It was wonderful and scary at the same time. The wind was blowing so hard, the sand literally stung you; the waves were awesome (particularly since our little piece of the Gulf of Mexico is usually too tame and too warm this time of year to be considered anything but bathwater); the sky was blue, black and white all at the same time; and several people were out with cameras; and yes, a few actually at the edge of the water.

It was breathtaking to watch and hear and see and smell the pounding waves and know that somewhere out there was danger. And that danger had an element of excitement to it. Just how far could you go before putting yourself in literal danger.

My friend and I had such opposite reactions as well. She was very upset over people taking pictures of children against the backdrop of the surf, while I was thinking what an awesome picture and why didn’t I bring my camera.

Do some of us walk on the edge of the abyss even when we know we shouldn’t? Or do we sometimes walk not really knowing? As writers do we sometimes wonder how far is far enough? Should we kill off that character so gruesomely? How far should the sexual scene go? If our character uses profanity, should we actually write the words?

Gustav hit my brother’s area (near Baton Rouge) much worse than he hit my area. And yet in the danger was excitement for him and his family; in the terror was beauty; and in the storm was protection.


  1. Glad you're okay! I think I could live without that type of excitement, but it's great that you can look on the bright side.

  2. What a wonderful, wild lesson! I understand that mixed feeling of wonderful and scary, though. We had a bad monsoon storm last week that uprooted trees and downed light poles. I was driving home from Mesa and ended up following the storm track, wishing I could stop and just watch the glorious light show, yet at the same time wondering if the next tree limb to blow across the freeway would choose me as its target. I think I am just awed by Nature's power...and to think that all that power is available to us...great and important questions, Terri!

  3. Terri,
    Your post is so true. Recently we were under a tornado watch. I could not persuade Colleen or our teen son to stay in the basement. After about their tenth trip upstairs, I gave up and joined them, myself. Then I experienced what you have just described so beautifully.

  4. Terri ~

    I guess I didn't realize you even lived in that area. I loved your description of the storm and your analogies to tiptoeing on the edge, in nature, in writing and in life. Glad you came out unharmed!

  5. should have been "of tiptoeing" not "to tiptoeing" ~ oh well


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