Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Eyes Have it!

In a weird way, a hurricane is sort of like Christmas. The days leading up to it are spent frantically preparing and ensuring that you have everything you need. The night before its arrival is spent lying awake in bed anxiously wondering what the morning will bring. You wake up early the next day to see what you got, then spend the rest of the day comparing with your friends and checking in on family. Oh, and eating. Lots and lots of eating. Then, 24 hours later, it's all over - save for the mess to clean up and bills to pay.

And just like the holidays, there are people who are grateful for the littlest things and those who complain that it's not enough. I can sort of understand the later attitude when it comes the presents, but storm damage? Really? It doesn't make sense to me that one could be disappointed with a lack of destruction. Yet there were countless people complaining that the severity of the storm did not live up to the hype. They were bemoaning all the extra batteries they bought, and griping about the gallons of milk in their still working fridges.

Granted, I'm as greedy as the next guy, but when it comes the storms, less is always more. I spent the sunny days leading up to the hurricane preparing the house, hoping that all my work would be for nothing. And I'm grateful to say, it was. Other than a small leak that managed to find its way into the bathroom I was remodeling, we suffered zero damage. The storm left us with our power still on, trees still standing, and basement dry.

And I was happy. But as I surveyed our yard looking for something to do, I couldn't deny there was some sort of strange feeling of... anti-climax. Like when you feel a sneeze coming on and it suddenly disappears - part of you is grateful that you don't need a tissue, but there’s a small part of you that feels unsatisfied. A good sneeze relieves all that built-up pressure, but a stifled one just leaves you wondering, what do I do now?

And that's how I felt, as I skimmed our pool of leaves with the sound of generators humming and chainsaws buzzing all around me. I was grateful that that was all I had to do, but felt guilty that that was all I had to do. And to be completely honest, more than a little wimpy. There I was, circling the pool with a glorified butterfly net while my neighbors were wielding power tools.  I suppose some people would have saw such good luck as an opportunity to relax and read or sit inside and watch TV all day, but after all the dire predictions, I needed to get my hands dirty. So I put the skimmer down and walked over to the neighbors to lend a helping hand.

We spent the afternoon chainsawing the tree that nearly took out his house, dragging the branches into the woods and rolling the logs behind the shed. After a celebratory Budweiser, we set our sights on another neighbor’s tree that was blocking the road. Once that was cleared away, we patted ourselves on our aching backs and went to our respective homes for well-deserved dinners.

Later that night, my nephew showed up looking to borrow my generator. Like 50% of our town, he had no power, and with 4 young kids and a Koi pond full of gasping fish, he could really use the energy. So we loaded it into my truck, along with 10 of the 20 gallons of gas I had purchased, and brought it back to his house.

I should have slept well that night, knowing I had assisted a neighbor in need, helped clear our road, and even saved the lives of some ridiculously expensive fish - but I couldn’t help feeling guilty about those less fortunate than I. Granted, like the grasshopper in the fable, my hard work on a sunny day may have had something to do with how little damage we received during the storm, but that didn't make it right to ignore the plight of the ants.

When it comes right down to it, aren't we all just little ants?  We scurry about, building our little towers of sand, trying to pretend like we know what we’re doing, ignoring the fact that Mother Nature can squash us with even the slightest of steps. And whether her acts are willfull or accidental, it doesn’t matter, because it’s our actions afterwards that really count. No matter how much we prepare, we must be ready to repair.  And more importantly, help others to do the same. 


  1. excellent!!! as i mentioned in another friends FB post...me & my lad were clearing a park of debris yesterday...and he said it was nice to do something for the community :) he's 7...

    love the picture of the glorified butterfly net ;) my hands are calloused from tree clearing :)

  2. Mike, funny, I was glad to have a tree to remove yesterday...and as I looked around the neighborhood and observed that others weathered the storm unscathed...I have to admit I was proud. It was my solitary moment of feeling like I kept up with the Jone's (get it trees???lol)

  3. Such an awesome post. It's the hard times, the truly testing moments that prove what we're made of. That was so nice of you to help.