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Last week was filled with drastic weather changes on several days from hour to hour. Weather is an unusual phenomenon.

Weather is the condition of the atmosphere; hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather events occur in the troposphere, just beneath the stratosphere. Our common understanding is that weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity. Climate however, is the term reserved for the accumulated changes of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time.

What drives our weather conditions? Air pressure, temperature and moisture differences between one area and another. These variations can occur because the sun's angle changes at any particular spot, which fluctuates by latitude from the tropics. The strong temperature difference between polar and tropical air gives birth to the jet stream. Weather systems in the mid-latitudes, such as extra-tropical cyclones, are caused by unsteadiness of the jet stream flow. Sunlight strikes the Earth at different angles at different times of the year, since the Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane. Earth's surface temperatures varies between ±40 °C (−40 °F to 100 °F) yearly. Over thousands of years, variations in Earth's orbit can significantly influence the quantity and dissemination of solar energy received by the Earth, which in turn influences the long-term global climate change.

When surface temperatures change, atmospheric pressure change. Higher altitudes are colder than lower altitudes because of variations in compressional heating. Weather forecasting predicts the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. There are many obscure meanings in weather predictions since the amount of area designated in the prediction can vary.  One thing is sure, weather systems are chaotic and fractal; so minute changes to one part of a weather system can swell to have large effects on the whole system. Human attempts to control weather have failed. Scientific evidence is emerging that impugns human activities as significantly altering local and global weather patterns.

Weather is a wonderful metaphor for human behavior both individually and in relationship. We tend to use phrases like stormy weather ahead or a ray of sunshine to describe different life seasons or hopes for a better future. But more important, weather helps us to understand the chaos that emerges in some peoples' lives behind the cloak of invisibility. No one can see the tornado coming until it hits, and when it hits, it is devastating.

Last Wednesday morning, I received a call from a dear friend and patient whose husband had committed suicide sometime between Monday night and early Tuesday morning. The man who took his life was a friend of mine and he was a well respected optometrist in Memphis. He and his wife were separated for a few years, she lived in Ohio. I knew him as a person who had compassion for his patients, worked long hours to make sure each and every patient got the care they needed and he believed in the holistic approach to eye care. He was always kind and generous to me, his office staff and his patients to a fault. And any patient who happened to come across his path, remained loyal and committed to his recommendations. I have the honor of caring for his survivors: his wife, and his two older sons.

So what does any of this have to do with weather? Everything. Weather is a result in changes in the troposphere, which is the lowest portion of the Earth's atmosphere. When we look to the heavens, we do not see the troposphere, we see the sky and clouds which are much closer to us. We pay no mind to the stirrings of the troposphere because we do not see it. It is invisible. Believe it or not, the lowest level of the troposphere influences air flow as a result of friction with the Earth's surface. Friction is the operative word here. Friction creates the changes in our weather. Friction also affects the unfoldments of our lives. Every human relationship has friction and a certain amount of friction is necessary for a healthy relationship.

Our lives have depth. The layers of the unconscious mind are much deeper than anyone can comprehend. I liken the troposphere to the conscious mind, and the stratosphere to the unconscious mind. The entire atmosphere has an average depth of about seventy-five miles. The troposphere thickest portion is above the equator is about eleven miles.

Where do the demons live in our minds? What demons? Metaphorically speaking, those demons that influence us to behave in ways that are not beneficial for our health and wellbeing. They live in the stratosphere, or the unconscious mind. Chaos and drama changes our lives forever, depositing new destructive demons deep into our mind's outer reaches. When demons percolate into our conscious minds sometimes they create a Jekyll & Hyde effect. If we are only exposed to the good Dr. Henry Jekyll, we are oblivious to the disturbed Edward Hyde.

Are people good at bouncing back and forth between Jekyll and Hyde? You bet they are. How many abusive and disturbed people do you know that act one way behind closed doors and put on the mask of compassion and civility when they are in public?

I knew my optometrist friend as a stand-up guy, willing to extend a hand to any and all of those who needed it. But there must have been something I did not know, hidden deep within his mind's stratosphere that compelled him to take his own life at such a young age with no apparent long term mortal debilitating illness. I am sure there was a great amount of friction as he walked through his demon infected projections about life and a reality in which he lived. If a weatherman tried to predict my friend's behavior based on computer modeling of the temperature, moisture and cloudiness in his life, I am certain his predictions would have been wrong.

I certainly was. Rest in peace my friend. May the sun shine on your face wherever you are; whenever you look to the sky or down on us still grieving your mortal end.

Memphis misses you.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:17 AM
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