Medium Short: Facing Powerlessness

Pedaling in storms and other points along the path

B. Lorraine Smith


Huge thunderstorms powered through the area yesterday. The storms: beautiful, dramatic. The humans: powerless as ever. We pedal on. (Photo by me, July 13, 2023)

Welcome to the latest Medium Short, a weekly accountability practice highlighting what I’m up to along the unmarked and occasionally flooded trail to #IndustrialHealing. Reminder: all my Medium articles are linked for free here.

I don’t remember being afraid of much as a kid. Spiders? Nifty little critters! Heights? Cool view! But thunder and lightning? Pure, abject, unconsolable terror. To this day thunder and lightning hurtle me into high alert mode like a horse ready to bolt.

But I’ve been working on busting up ossified narratives, in myself and others. Saying, “I am terrified” over and over is akin to instructing myself to be terrified. This needs to change as it helps nothing, even if it feels justified.

Warnings of major storms, flooding, and tornados were blaring through the phone alert system throughout the afternoon yesterday.

But I had an appointment that I didn’t want to miss (full disclosure: at the gym). Life goes on. No sense being petrified and paralyzed.

I studied the weather radar maps, timing my 10-minute bike journey so I could travel between bursts of storm activity. And I changed my mental “I am terrified” story to a range of more helpful alternatives, from the grounding simplicity of “I am pedaling a bicycle,” to the comforting “I am safe right now,” to the uplifting, “I see a beautiful, dramatic sky!”

I caught myself again and again trying to duck for cover in response to the electricity in the air and the searing hot wind pinched with cold blasts, even though in the moment there was zero danger (from the skies, at least — panicking and randomly crashing on my bike could be dangerous).

Midway through the workout, the gym lost power. The other athletes and I completed our sessions in semi-darkness using the back-up power. And then we all stood and watched from the doorway for a while. There was no going outside in what was before us in that moment. That was plain common sense, not being terrified.

This was the most intense weather I’ve seen with my…



B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact.