8.29.11 On Emergencies, Tropical Storms, & Dear Prudence

Betty Walsh crosses street in Red Hook - not far from here (from The Atlantic) http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/08/hurricane-irene/100138/

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me.
– Emily Dickinson

Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?
– The Beatles

We, some of us, are a people who don’t like to be inconvenienced. When the Starbuck’s line gets four people deep, we huff. When bandwidth speed slows down, we gripe. Some of us have grown so accustomed to controlling circumstances and fortune, karmic handshakes and secret attraction loops, that we no longer let chance or bad fortune enter our by-design vocabulary.

So, emergencies, the real ones, can test us.

When the headlines and warnings about Irene’s fierceness came last week, luckily I was in a space that I could hear them. My busy season had just passed, and no new urgent project absorbed my attention with false priorities. In fact, I had spent much of last week spaciously hiking and walking and talking with my 26-year-old niece. So by the time she left on Friday, I could face the fact that an emergency – a 430-mile-wide-100-mph-wind-10-inches-of-rain emergency – could be on her way.

Head space seems to make a difference. If you’re stuck in busy, urgent “I-have-important-things-to-take-care-of” mode, then it’s difficult to stop your wheels and listen to what matters. But acknowledge imminent danger or death, acknowledge how temporary everything is, acknowledge that your work will still be there waiting for you after the emergency, and you might save yourself a lot of time and grief.

Prudence might be the mean between fearful reactivity and foolish disregard. And it doesn’t hurt at times to ask her to come out and play. She is a dear.

Our household responded. Neighbors exchanged cell phone numbers. We stayed off the roads. We braced ourselves.  We read and talked and listened to the winds. The town’s supervisor and a cadre of emergency volunteers have stayed on hand to aid stranded and distressed neighbors.

Our basement flooded to near-dangerous levels, but my wife and I bailed buckets, and then two neighbors stopped by first to help bail and then to find a generator to kick on our pump.

The three forty-foot trees that fell on our land barely missed our house and shed, but a neighbor dropped by, chain saw in hand, and introduced himself and offered a price we couldn’t refuse to give us instant fire wood.

The rising waters washed away a small wooden bridge on our pond, but we wanted to build a new one anyway.

Our house is out of power and will be for most if not all week, but I had wanted to get back to a co-working space in the city of Kingston anyway – which, it turns out, does have power and WiFi (which is where I am now).

But a little inconvenience is nothing to complain about. Compared to Katrina, tsunamis, the rebellions that are wreaking havoc in other countries, we’re fortunate. That said, deep sympathies go out to the people who did lose homes and businesses and loved ones these past few days. Prepared or not, there were casualties.

Minor and major inconveniences aren’t likely places to track delight and wonder, but they are places fertile to track how spacious or cramped our minds (and basements) are.

What about you? Any emergencies or minor inconveniences challenge your pace today? Regardless, share with us your day’s three highlights and let us know where you’re writing from.

See you in the (wet) woods,
The Three Highlights Guy


5 responses to “8.29.11 On Emergencies, Tropical Storms, & Dear Prudence

  1. Good to hear from you – was wondering if you all were underwater…Glad all’s well. Enough.
    1. Still aglow from writing 16 pgs in a beautiful, cool, quiet office this past weekend, enjoying also a sense of safety.
    2. Today at work we decided to hire the most incredible consultant – the sort of person you think might be related to God for the career of good work he’s done while smiling the whole time.
    3. Scooting out early for restaurant at posh restaurant thanks to Groupon!
    Austin, TX – Where on day 74 of 100+ temps buckets of water are accepted here…

  2. Glad to hear you and your family weathered the storms reasonably well. All the best in getting things back to “normal.”

    1) Although heat remains our constant bother, today brought a little rain as we headed for a day trip to SC
    2) Anticipation builds as we look ahead to a weekend potentially filled with a few more drops and temperatures under 100+
    3) Walking through Greenville today just reminded me of how much I look forward to walking in weather that is comfortable and almost Fall-life… a season may turn again, bringing new perspectives and renewed steps forward…

    Take care… from Greenville, SC, and McKinney, TX.

  3. Head space does make all the difference, doesn’t it? I’m glad your home was spared and that you’re having such an optimistic attitude toward these weather-related setbacks. (1) I am just so grateful and glad to have prevailed over this, the first of many, many long Mondays involving a full day of school teaching + two back-to-back afternoon yoga classes. (2) Chatting with my best friend Amanda, who is currently living in New Orleans, and, among other things, noting that today is the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (3) Letting go of my grip on perceived potential romantic possibilities; there are zero potentials on my horizon, and that is totally OK. ~Michelle, Guatemala

  4. I’m a day late, but so glad to here you’re well.I was sending good love your way. 1) collective energy on the mat that help tease out a few ideas and the direct of my YAM article. 2) taking my lunch hour and sitting in the sun for a 20 min meditation (amazing!) 3) Coming home after a 13 hr day and enjoying an artichoke with my best friend and husband. ~ Heidi Belmont, MA

  5. Really great to read all of your highlights (and good wishes, thanks!)
    1. Remembering that I’m a member of BEAHIVE – a co-working collective space in Kingston, NY that has WiFi and electricity and a running toilet(!).
    2. Clearing our driveway and yard of debris and huge cut logs and feeling the satisfaction of post-storm clean-up.
    3. Mourning the loss of our small pond dock-bridge (that has its own personal story) and then imagining what new bridge we can build. (and then hearing my 2-yr-old daughter say to my wife “Sad” as she points toward where the bridge used to be.)
    – from Accord, NY (Hudson Valley)