As I overlooked one of the most popular spots in Myrtle Beach, I watched as the gray clouds covered the skies like a blanket on a cold winter day. Here in early May, it felt more like winter than spring at the beach.
Mist fell from the sky as the bitter, cold wind ripped through my clothes and made me wonder why I decided to spend a day at the beach.
Flags rippled through the skies clinging to the poles like a kite on a string. Torn and tossed by a force it can’t control, the flags rippled in the wind, swaying between danger and delight as they displayed their glory on this cold spring day.
Despite the wind, rain, and clouds, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the shores and the awesome power of nature.
On this day, I came to photograph that iconic Myrtle Beach vacation scene. As I walked along the beach, shivering in a short sleeved shirt and battered by the wind and rain, I got something more beautiful than sun, sand, and paradise.
I didn’t realize this storm on the beach would teach me another travel life lesson.
Crashing waves and wind-swept beaches made this the perfect storm of adventure.
Rock you like a hurricane
In September 1989, I lived a few miles from Myrtle Beach as Hurricane Hugo made its way up the South Carolina coast ripping and shredding beach towns and cities in its path. Twenty people sought refuge in our home as the strong winds wailed and rain pelted our home as candles flickered throughout the night.
As a young teenager, a massive hurricane passing through your town was an awesome thing to experience. While I understood the devastation this hurricane caused, I was in awe of nature’s power.
Around 2 am, the eye of the hurricane passed. For a few minutes, everything was calm as we stood on the porch to survey the damage and enjoy the eerie silence and calm.
As Hurricane Hugo made its way up the coast, the footage of the devastation was shocking. I knew what I had seen and heard throughout the night. However, I really couldn’t appreciate the true power and force of this hurricane.
Until I walked along the beach today.
Walking into the perfect storm
Winds were strong as I made my way a few miles inland to Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. As I watched the wind, rain, and clouds on Peaches Corner, this wasn’t the same experience that I had an hour earlier.
I walked along the boardwalk before making my way to the shore. My face stung from the cold wind and grains of sand as they pelted my face as I walked to the pier.
As I stood at the edge of the pier, the waves crashed into the pillars spraying droplets of water soaring into the air. As gusts of 30 MPH or more (it seemed much stronger to me) ripped through the sands and tossed the waves like a rag doll, I flashed back to Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
As I stood there taking photos, I could barely keep my body still, much less my hands and a camera. While I experienced the wind and rain from the safety of a house a few miles inland, here I was on the shores, in the middle of the storm, with no protection from the elements.
I finally understood the power of a hurricane, being battered and beaten with nothing to protect me from the full force. I could barely walk or stand in these strong winds. I can’t even imagine being on the beach when 135 MPH winds hit these shores.
Making my way to the pier, I snapped photo after photo of the waves crashing as the pier rocked back and forth from the force of the water. Even in the midst of driving wind, crashing waves, and gray skies, I was in awe of the beauty in the middle of the storm.
The storms of life
As I stood overlooking the ocean rise and crash into the shores from above, I gained a new perspective on the storm.
As the winds battled against me threatening to topple me over, I learned to stand even stronger to combat the difficult situation so I wouldn’t fall.
When I walked onto the beach that day, I knew the storm was coming. I was prepared to face the winds and the sand in my face as I struggled to walk along the shores until I could see things from a different perspective from above.
I realized that those flags could only display their beauty and purpose when they were blown and tossed by the storm.
Sometimes in life, we walk into the storm knowing that it’s coming and are ready to face it head on determined to get to the other side. We know that once we fight the wind, rain, and crashing waves, we will be able to see the storm from a different perspective once we get through it.
Other times, the storms come and blow as we lie there completely powerless against the forces that are beyond our control. Without these storms, we can’t know how beautiful and strong we really are.
When the storms come, we stand up straighter, become stronger, and remain determined not to topple over.
Honestly, I don’t like the storms. I don’t like being blown and tossed by forces beyond my control. Whether I see them coming or am caught by surprise, I want to run away to safety and comfort – miles away from the shore.
Yet as I watched the winds blow and the waves crash, the beauty and power of nature were awe-inspiring and beautiful on a less than perfect day.
On those days I want to quit traveling or struggle through the ups and downs of life, I hope I can learn to appreciate the storms of life. While they are never easy, there is beauty, purpose, and strength that can be found.
This may not have been a perfect day at the beach in Myrtle Beach. However, it turned out to be more beautiful and inspiring than I ever expected it to be.
What have the storms of life taught you?