Monday, October 29, 2012

Weathering the Storm

Sometimes it seems like life is one impressive storm after another. This week, as a huge storm (I've heard it called: Frankenstorm) approaches the eastern coast of our country, residents are doing the best that they can to batten down the hatches. Boards have been fastened over windows, services like subways, trains, and flights have been cancelled, businesses and schools have closed, and many people have been evacuated in preparation.

As I watched the news last night, various scenes flashed across the TV screen. One showed people inside of a store frantically shoving items like bottled water, canned goods, etc. into shopping carts. Another featured a stubborn resident who was refusing to leave the area, claiming he had nowhere to go and he wanted to protect his home. As such, he was busy loading up bags with sand from a nearby beach. Only time will tell if this was a wise decision.

A year after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, my husband and I spent two weeks in the area on a business trip. We saw firsthand some of the damage that can take place when a storm of this magnitude descends. Some images will always haunt me, like the flattened homes, others with numbers revealing how many were found dead and alive, and a cemetery with empty tombs--everything had washed out to sea.

It helped to see the determination to rebuild. Everywhere we looked, despite the overwhelming devastation that had taken place, people were stubbornly piecing their homes and businesses back together. Most had done this before, and they told us they would do so again if another storm came through.

Before our trip to New Orleans, I wondered why anyone would want to live in a place that is prone to massive storms. After spending two weeks exploring the area, I could see why. I fell in love with New Orleans and all it had to offer. It is a beautiful city, full of history, art, music, romance, and excellent cuisine. A seafood fan, I consumed some of the best shrimp, oysters, etc. that I've ever had the pleasure to sample during our stay in 'Nawlins. The Cajun spices appealed, although I did draw the line over the deep-fried blue crabs. Spiders are not my friends and in my opinion, those small crabs resembled deep-friend tarantulas. Just sayin' . . .

Regardless, I came away from Louisiana with a deep respect for those who have the courage to live in a storm-prone state. Their sense of culture, tradition, and endurance impressed me greatly. I have often thought of their resilience as I have faced storms in my own life.

We all experience storms during our adventure of a lifetime. Some are more like light mists that barely douse our lives. Others are of such scary magnitude, we want to run screaming the other way. I think what matters most is how we decide to confront these challenges. Do we run in a panicked circle exclaiming the sky is falling, or do we simply do our best to secure our foundation and weather the storm? It has been my experience that we often don't know how we'll react until the storm is on the horizon. That's when we discover our mettle, as my grandmother would call it--and often realize that we can shine the brightest when all around is dark.

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