Saturation

For six weeks in July and August, I am treading the holy footsteps of Ken Barlow and Sven Sundgaard (did you realize that’s how our favorite Kare 11 weatherman spells his last name?). Yep, you guessed correctly: I’m in a summer meteorology class, on track to forecast thunderstorms and predict high temperatures (or maybe just madden my family with confusing amateur explanations of weather phenomenon, resulting in rolled eyes and high tempers… har har).

It didn’t take twelve hours a week in a overly air-conditioned community college classroom for me to realize that weather is fascinating, unpredictable, and way complex. But it did require personal saturation in the topic of meteorology for me to catch the bug that Barlow and Sundgaard must’ve caught on their path to stardom (and David Letterman, too… did you know he was an Indianapolis weatherman before he hosted a talk show?). Weather, as an observable science and as an academic subject, is way cool.

It also makes wonderful dinnertime conversation; just ask my family! They are fast soaking in all of the trivia I feed them (alongside my heavily-garlicy homemade hummus, visually similar to baby food, and the suspicious-looking “No Bake Chocolate Cake” that could only bring to mind the word viscous). So far they have learned many valuable facts, like…

  • Raindrops are shaped like flattened spheres (NOT teardrops),
  • The sky is blue due to scattering of light particles (NOT due to the reflection of water),
  • The mesosphere is the coldest layer of our atmosphere (NOT the thermosphere), and
  • Thermometers read most accurately in the shade (NOT the sun).

The stuff of New York Times bestsellers. People kill for these facts. Come on, haven’t you always thought that raindrops were cute little teardrops falling from heaven? Well, we’ve debunked THAT theory. 

All sarcasm aside, though, isn’t weather our go-to subject when conversation gets awkward? When stories have all been told, jewelry has been complimented, and gossip has been exchanged, what’s our fallback? “Gee, how about that heat today?” It’s neutral, it’s universal, it’s easy. The weather will never offend or upset. So why not have a few juicy tidbits about our friend National Weather to throw in when things get stale? Were you aware that cumulonimbus clouds have actually reached a height greater than TWO Mt. Everests stacked on top of each other? Oh, and did you know that David Letterman once compared the size of hail in Indianapolis to canned hams? 

Suffice it to say, I’m saturated in the topic of meteorology these days. Consider today. Class for two hours this morning, then all afternoon I sat on the porch with my textbook, a pen, and some water with lemon. My brain  floated along with the warm winds aloft, dipped into clouds to explore collision and coalescence, and soared to the poles to observe the coriolis force in effect (the coriolis force, in case you are wondering, is an imaginary force due to the earth’s rotation that affects the path of winds and objects in the upper atmosphere. I knew you wanted to know).  I studied all day; unfortunately, the short nature of summer classes necessitates frequent tests, and we have one tomorrow.

The good thing is: unlike calculus and computer science, I like the subject.

The bad thing is: twenty-four hours (like upper atmospheric winds!) moves fast. And sometimes, my expectations for Monday are too expansive for its length. I hope for relaxation. I hope for adventure. I hope to encounter friends, try new things, be refreshed. Run three miles. Write a perfect poem. Solve world problems, finish The Grapes of Wrath, wash my sheets. Sleep deep and well.

Unfortunately, I reach my saturation point. Fill it with studying, and class, and a nap, and Brooke’s tired. Brooke’s crabby. At a certain point, energy and motivation to write that poem and go on that run start to evaporate, and Brooke starts to feel that blah feeling. Sad, but so true, and all too common.

Give me thirty seconds. We need to talk about saturation, and then I promise your meteorology lesson for the day will be complete.

Saturation is an equilibrium condition in which the rates of evaporation and condensation are equal; in other words, for every molecule that evaporates, one molecule condenses. You learned about this in elementary school with the visual example of a sponge. Put a sponge in water; it becomes saturated. There’s a finite amount of water a sponge can hold.

Are you with me? Okay. So, saturation means that you are full. You can’t hold any more. And just like a day becomes full, so we, too, become full. Saturated with worry. Stress. Fear. Joy. Laughter. Pain. Hope.

The thing is, life will wring us out, like sponges. It’s traffic jams, and unanswered prayers, and lost passwords. It’s burnt brownies for the party and overdrawn banking accounts and twisted ankles. You know this. It can get pretty grim (as if burnt brownies wasn’t grim enough).

And my question is, what are you saturated with? We can’t always choose the things that saturate our day, but we can choose what saturates us.

I realized the other day that I was dripping anxiety. All over everything and everyone. Ick. It’s not a pretty picture, because people can guess pretty quickly what you’ve been soaking in, and nobody wants to soak up another person’s worry.

On the flip side, I have friends – beautiful people – who are saturated with joy and peace. I love being around these people, and I want to be with them all the time! Because whatever a person is saturated with shows. Saturation is equilibrium; for every molecule that evaporates, one condenses. For every moment that drains your patience, an extra dose of love fills that void right up. You are saturated, whole, full, in a state of equilibrium.

What saturates you with joy, peace, love? I have found that time spent with my Bible, in prayer, meditating on truth and the love that my perfect, powerful heavenly Father has on our broken, sinful world, saturates me better than anything else. When I get wrung out, this liquid love keeps me in equilibrium, keeps pressure at bay.

Okay, so I admit I don’t expect to be on Kare 11’s nightly news anytime soon alongside Sven pointing to a radar map (that I can’t see) and talking about relative humidity. I don’t want that. However, I’m proud to say that when Sven talks about relative humidity, I know exactly how to compute that (vapor pressure over saturation vapor pressure times 100!).

I know 100% relative humidity indicates saturation.

And I know 100% that saturation is a swell dinnertime topic.

(Get ready, Mom and Dad :-))

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2 thoughts on “Saturation

  1. For some reason Brooke, this post made me almost cry. (And if raindrops are flattened spheres, does that mean that tears aren’t really tear shaped either?) I felt so attuned and connected to the message of this post, it hurt. I am definitely one of those who leaks anxiety all over, and then when my point of saturation occurs I often burst all over the nearest person I trust dearly (not at all considered to be a healthy form of relationship upkeep). You have given me yet another gift of perspective (which is a gift of yours, I think). I can wade through the bathtub of life and still allow myself to feel the whole spectrum of human emotions but those disheartening moments do not have to meld with who I am or how I act today. So when the BMV wait is an hour long, instead of letting the time-anxiety settle on my shoulders I can look at those precious 3600 seconds as God-given time to people-watch and rest and practice patience.

  2. Liz, thanks for reading and encouraging. Good question about teardrops – I hadn’t thought of that! Could a tear be not tear-shaped? 🙂 My prayer is for you, and me, and all our friends, to saturate ourselves in God’s love every day so we can live our lives fully and abundantly, rather than tiredly, drained, and anxiously. My personality definitely tends toward worry more naturally, too (and oh, yes, am I a “burster” like you, Liz! My poor family!) but it’s a fault we can overcome with God’s help! I like how you put it – we can’t avoid the daily emotions and hard moments, but we can control how we respond. And that starts with saturation 🙂

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