Rolling Thunder

“If the thunder doesn’t get you the lightning will.”


Several thoughts came to mind with the topic of Rolling Thunder. I opened this piece with a short line from the Grateful Dead song called The Wheel.  One of my all time favorite Dead tunes and its reference to thunder. Thunder when associated with a rainstorm is often rolling in nature and often accompanied by lightning and then a real downpour. The lightning is of course the cause of the thunder despite the fact that you might hear thunder and then see lightning. Things are not always what they seem.

I got to experience a rare thunder and lightning storm on my last trip to San Francisco this September. It was so spectacular and unusual for that City that it had people out in the streets trying to photograph the lightning with their phones. Coming from an area where such storms are common and a state with a high per capita number of lightning deaths I opted to stay inside.

I could use “Rolling Thunder” I suppose to characterize my longstanding and truly at times epic flatulence. Certainly for the past several years I have made a conscious effort to increase my fiber intake. My daily fiber goal is at least 40 grams with 25-30 often recommended but the average American gets only 15 grams. This can at times result in farts that seem to go on in a truly rolling fashion particularly at night in bed though I can produce anytime of the day. I am fully aware that sharing this information does nothing to enhance my already very slim chance of landing another life partner.

Exercise seems to stimulate often-inopportune gas production so I find myself these days seeking out little used exercise machines off in an isolated corner of the gym or turning on one of the large fans if available. Then being able to fart to my hearts content. The use of the fan makes it difficult for other gym goers to pin down the culprit.

Unwanted farts also seem to roll out when meditating and sitting on my Zafu. This is not an issue when home alone. However, when joining the evening Zazen at the Zen Center recently in San Francisco I would find myself discreetly farting into my cushion hoping for a silent escape of air and with the expulsion being into four inches of cushion an unnoticed event. As a matter of course though I believe if the setting is appropriate that farts should be released with gusto and this seems to enhance the volume. I suppose Roaring Thunder might be more appropriate for such occasions rather than Rolling Thunder.

So before people start moving away from me here in group I’ll change the topic and share a couple of other “Rolling Thunder” references that came to mind for me in addressing this topic. The first being the Rolling Thunder Revue which was the name of a rock and roll tour in the mid-1970’s featuring Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and many others.  Several theories existed as to why Dylan chose that name. Some thought perhaps he was referring to the Native America Shaman named Rolling Thunder. With the Vietnam War still raw and fresh in the American Psyche maybe he was referring to the code name for the disastrous and genocidal aerial bombardment by the United States of Vietnam that took place from March of 1965 through October of 1968. When asked about the urban mythology that had sprung up around the name Dylan had a much more mundane explanation. He had been sitting on his porch one day before the tour and a storm was approaching ushering in a rolling burst of thunder that seemed to stretch across the sky: this being another small blow to those who would make Bob Dylan America’s conscience.

I have included a link here to a short piece on lightning safety from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Lightning strikes resulting in death are rare and one erroneous assumption many people have is that they disproportionately happen to golfers, perhaps wishful thinking on the part of some people upset with our country’s current leadership (POTUS). This is however incorrect with three times as many strikes happening to fisherman in boats than golfers. Overall only 10% of lightning strikes result in death per data from NOAA.

Besides the potentially negative karmic repercussions of hoping POTUS will give up golf and take up fishing it would be much more productive to continue to pursue peaceful resistance. Never being one to shy away from a cheesy metaphor I would like to think that the progressive sweep in the recent elections was a real Rolling Thunder and harbinger of great change to come.