Our family vacation this summer was a trip to Yellowstone National Park. Now, to be sure, the entire trip was iffy around the middle of June when the Park was punished by 4 days of record rainfall and melting snow resulting in floods and mudslides that wiped out roads and bridges. Granted, by the time our vacation took place in late July, some of the Park was still closed, but we were able to enjoy most of the attractions.
Our drives to see the main attractions came with a side benefit for the driver (yours truly). In the vast expanse of territory that the Park covers (2.2 million acres to be exact), one could see ample herds of buffalo that scattered the landscape… Not something you see here in Northwest Ohio at any given moment. But at Yellowstone, they were rampant. Knowing our family was heading to Yellowstone, a friend of mine forwarded me a news story of a man that had gotten too close to a buffalo at the Park and was gored by one. “Thanks” I responded. Subsequently, an alert was issued by the Park Rangers: Stay back away from the beastly animals at least 25 yards. And for those who use the metric system, they graciously offered a 23 meter measurement as well.
Buffalo. What an odd animal. Officially, they are American Bison. But they are commonly referred to as buffalo. Turns out, buffalo are among the most dangerous animals encountered by visitors to National Parks. They appear slow because of their lethargic movements, but can easily outrun humans and have been observed to be able to run up to 45 mph (that’s 65km/h for our metric friends).
But you know what I find most fascinating about the buffalo? It’s how they handle storms. That’s right. Storms. You know, like thunderstorms, high winds, hailstorms, tornadoes…the wide gamut of all things storm related.
So, you ask…how exactly does a buffalo handle a storm?
Well, picture a vast prairie and a herd of buffalo grazing. In the distant background, picture a horizon of mountain peaks. As storm clouds gather and crest over the distant mountains…buffalo turn their massive bodies and face that direction. Then, slowly, but surely, the herd begins to walk towards the storm. Then pick up the pace. And when the leading edge of the storm is upon them, they begin to gallop through it. And, in so doing, they minimize the cold, painful, drenching effects of the storm. In essence, they get it over with as quickly as possible.
Much of the animal kingdom handle storms differently. Often, they’ll hunker down in their holes or nests and wait it out. Or, they’ll run away from the storm, seeking refuge in caves or under the brush.
Not the buffalo. They turn, face it, and run into and through it.
What about you? No, I’m not talking about weather related storms. I’m talking about the storms of life. They’re inevitable. How do you handle them? Run and hide? Seek the shelter provided by blaming others? Crawl into your little hole and treat others like crap until you feel better about yourself? Lean deeper into your addictions to mask the pain?
Or…like the buffalo…do you turn to face it? Begin a gentle stride toward it at first? Then upon its lashing fury, turn your stride into an all-out sprint? Take the pain? Embrace the suck?
If you do…you’ll get through it faster.
Storms are inevitable. How you handle them can change the trajectory of your life.
…Be the buffalo.