To hibernate, or not to hibernate …

Have you noticed how drivers tend to go a little bit nuts on the roads when it’s raining, or when a storm is threatening?  People who are generally stable, sensible drivers with a healthy respect for Life throw all reason out the window at the sight of an ominous grey cloud and some water-drops on the windscreen.  And it’s a well-known fact that traffic incidents increase dramatically during inclement weather.

Nearly everyone who drives a vehicle of any sort has been involved in, witness to, responsible for or narrowly missed an accident of some description during bad weather.  Have you ever thought about how you felt that day, leading up to the moment in question?  Your stress levels would have been higher than on a calm, sunny day, although you probably didn’t notice at the time.  You would have been driving either faster (got to get home! got to get home!) or slower (oh my God! I can’t see out my windscreen!) than your usual pace.  You would have been checking your mirrors either more often (nervous drivers) or less often (hero-complex drivers).  And you most probably started the trip in a mood as foul as the weather outside, because frankly, you would rather be at home, than dealing with all these idiots on the roads.

Once upon a time, when we all got about naked and lived in caves, Weather ruled our lives.  Like every other animal species, we stockpiled food for winter months and rainy days and we had our own systems in place to increase survival during periods of bad weather.  Those systems basically involved the incredible notion of staying home.

Modern humans, of course, think they’re invincible and all-powerful, and subconsciously wish that a 5-minute spot on the evening news was devoted to them.  Hence, a bit of bad weather isn’t going to stop them climbing on the roof to fix the TV antenna (…but I’d planned to do it today anyway!), or go for a 10 km bushwalk in a remote national park (…but I do it every Saturday morning!), or set off on a 12-hour drive with the caravan along 2-lane country highways frequented by interstate freight trucks (…but it’s the long weekend!).

The cave is looking mighty inviting right now.

Once upon a time, when it was pouring rain, blowing winds, swirling snow or flickering thunder outside, we holed up in our caves, lit a fire and comforted each other.  We had no planes to catch, budgets to organise or clients to meet because, surprisingly, our lives were the most important thing to us.

That’s why when you’re at home, the sound of rain on the roof is so comforting.  That’s why you have this overwhelming desire to get home quickly if you’re out when a thunderstorm hits.  That’s why when you’re at work in bad weather you find yourself thinking more about your home than your work—wondering whether the backyard’s flooding, or hoping you shut the windows, or hoping that massive tree next door hasn’t dropped a branch on your roof.

So next time you wake up to pouring rain, and you just can’t face going out because something inside you wants to curl up on the couch with a good book, chocolate biscuits and a cup of tea … listen to that voice inside—it’s your animal instinct and it might just save your life one day.

© Manu Saunders 2010

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