3 Hurricane Thoughts

Hurricane Dorian came & went last week and left our area (Charleston, SC) with mostly just tons of leaves + debris, some down trees and big limbs, and power outages.

It also left me with lots of thoughts and things to consider that I wanted to share with you this morning. 

the calm after the storm

the calm after the storm

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First, after the storm passed and the city began to emerge from its dark, hot, power-less homes, it was pretty clear we were all missing the same things: hot coffee, a charge for our cell phones, and some AC. 

I ventured out on the first clear morning in search of any place that was open and selling coffee. That place was Krispy Kreme (they didn’t even have donuts yet) and the dozen other folks in line with me were all there for the same reason I was.

I smiled to myself, realizing how true my dad’s old adage was (is):
“We’re all more alike than different.”

It’s so easy to draw lines and put people in boxes;
to contain + define the “others” who believe, think, live, act, speak, dress differently than we do.

But at the end of the storm that touches all of us— regardless of race, religion, political view, gender or preferences— we’re all in line together for coffee.

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As the storm was actively hitting us, we were just watching and waiting in the dark as the trees swayed and snapped, the rain came down sideways and the wind howled.

It was a Thursday— almost the middle of the week— and I couldn’t help but think what the rest of my family & friends were doing on this particular Thursday where our city was getting berated by nature.

They were, likely, all carrying on as usual: going to work, running errands, feeding kids, sending emails, cooking dinner.

It made me think about how something so big can happen in your world, yet it can go completely unnoticed in another person’s world.

I think it’s only natural that we see things from a selfish perspective (how could we not?) but I think it’s so important to be aware that we are. There are so many big, scary things happening in the lives of the people we encounter every single day that go completely unnoticed in our world. 

You never know who is experiencing a hurricane on a Thursday morning in September.

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Another frequent conversation we had in assessing the storm’s damage was about how fortunate we were to be spared— which is so, so true. We are so lucky all we got was wind + rain and a couple days without power. We are so lucky all we had to throw out was the contents of our fridge and not the contents of our home.

However, in expressing frustration with the inconveniences of the storm (however minor) we were almost always met with, “Well at least you didn’t get X, Y Z,” or “Don’t complain. At least you don’t live in the Bahamas.”

Which, again, is so, so true, but it made me think about our responses to people voicing their frustrations in general:
Do we think by pointing out a larger frustration or deeper issue, we’re soothing the current frustration someone is feeling?
Do we just not know what to say?
Do we think we only “deserve” to complain or feel frustrated if we are experiencing the worst possible scenario?

Of course I’m grateful my home isn’t damaged.
Of course I’m grateful my city is back up and running after only a few days of shutting down.
But can I not also be annoyed by power outages? Maybe it is a “first world problem.” But is it not possible to recognize that and still feel frustrated? 

I think our responses to other people’s pain are so interesting.

It’s true: it is hard and a bit awkward not to react this way.
When someone expresses pain, frustration, annoyance, it’s hard not to offer up solutions or reasons why they shouldn’t feel this way.
It’s hard to say, “Yeah man I hear ya. That sounds really frustrating. I’m sorry you’re going through that right now.” 

But what if choosing that “hard” response is actually more appropriate in some situations?

It’s not a cry for pity or an attempt to equate losing power for 36 hours with losing one’s home— but does my problem have to be equal or greater to another’s in order to “deserve” to vent and complain for a bit?

Just a thought. 

I had lots of think-time during the hurricane, and now that it’s over, I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for the rare opportunity to be truly, genuinely bored. I hope some of my Hurricane Thoughts make you think, too. It’s with much gratitude that we are safe and dry and returning to “normal” this week. 

What’s going on in your corner of the world that has likely gone unnoticed in mine?