I’m sitting in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. This hurricane was so massive it impacted the entire peninsula of Florida. The Keys have never sustained such impact and upon its exit Irma gave us the proverbial “middle finger” as it caused the St. John’s River to overflow and flood Jacksonville. The official estimate of power outage was 6.5 million. A revised estimate puts that total at 13 million out of a state population of 20 million.
While very grateful, my husband and I are struggling with some “survivors” guilt since we still have power. We live in an area of Central Florida where the utility lines are buried. We are offering our house, showers, beds, air conditioning, coffee pot, washing machine, and refrigerator to friends who are sweltering in air conditioning impaired homes with rapidly defrosting refrigerators and NO COFFEE.
So aside from a hurricane hang-over, what is a take-away from this experience? Here are a few thoughts I’m saying to myself:
(1) First and foremost – Don’t be a jerk! I have that tendency I must confess. I get very cranky queuing in long lines or getting caught in traffic jams. Behaviors I saw pre-hurricane were kind of appalling- people fist fighting over propane tanks, hoarding water, and snatching that last grill out from under an elderly man at a Home Depot.
Let’s hope we can find more patience in our post-hurricane behavior because frankly, waiting for Duke energy or Florida Power trucks will summon up all the patience we have in our psychic arsenal.
(2) Get creative. If I believe there is such a thing as “sin”, wasting time would be at the top of my sin list. Yes it is bloody hot. Yes the cable is down so no television or Internet. Yes there is no electricity to even cook a meal inside the house. But what else can you say “yes” to which can actually bolster your spirits?
Yes, I can finally spend quality time with people I love rather than running hither and yon checking off to-do lists. (Although by now you may actually be a little tired of each other given the pre-amble to the hurricane). Time is a commodity. What are we going to do with this precious gift? As my kids and I used to say, “Make lemonade out of chicken shit”. (When they were older of course)
Make a fun concoction out of food you have in the pantry or expiring in the refrigerator. Or even make a science experiment out of it. During a previous hurricane my kids and I made a treasure hunt out of finding the iron in cereal. After all, what does “fortified with iron” really mean?
Actually do something creative- play or make musical instruments; instead of watching television, half of you be the television and the other half the audience. Draw, color, paint, sculpt.
(3) Go on an adventure. Whether on foot, bicycle, or by car, get out of the house and explore. The roads are or will be cleared of danger in many areas. Get out of town.
I don’t mean to sound Pollyanna about our plights. Conditions are rough right now without a doubt. But our attitudes toward this situation can be life changing. How often do we have the opportunity to be curious, to be a little foolish? Where ever and whenever possible- have fun with this gift of time!