After the Storm

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When an extreme weather event happens, and in the aftermath that inevitably follows, it is a jarring blow to our perspective.  It’s an astonishing reminder of how little it is that we truly need to survive, at a time when some of our fellow citizens  are lacking those fundamental staples.  Food and water, shelter.  In this moment, millions of people have been set back over a century as they learn how to pass the days and nights by candlelight.  Some have lost possessions, automobiles, businesses, their own homes.  Family and friends of victims of the storm have suffered greater losses still.

And yet we will go on.  This little pocket of the world has been sorely tested, but I have no doubt that we will rise to the occasion, recover, and begin to rebuild, slow and taxing as the process may be.  Along the way we may gripe endlessly about the re-opening of the subway system, the paused trash collection, and the power outages.  We may go stir crazy in our tiny apartments (my roommate and I have an epic list of household projects to take care of), and we may have bought more wine than water to prepare for the storm.  But there is a beautiful energy here, of people ready to repair and move forward.  We will grieve, but then we will move on.  What else is there to do?  Time ticks, the world spins, the sun rises, and we must keep up.

Though there was flooding and felled trees, I was largely passed over in the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.  I woke up this morning to text messages from loved ones, and felt extraordinarily lucky to be able to reassure them that I was well, my apartment was well, my neighborhood was well.  In this moment, I realize how blessed I have been.  And yet, I wake up and take those exact same things for granted each morning.  My bedside lamp turns on, I can brew coffee and check my email.  My home is safe and dry.  Nothing has changed except the realization that all of those little privileges could quickly be taken away from me, and that a few miles away on the island of Manhattan or further out in Queens, many are waking up without any of those advantages.  And they may feel equally lucky just to have their homes intact or their loved ones by their sides.

Perhaps it is only natural that the recognition of all those advantages recedes with the tide.  As we board the trains and head back to work, our expectations recalibrate, and what seems luxurious now will quickly become normal.  But perhaps we can hold on to a little kernel of that gratitude and carry it with us into the days ahead.

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