It has been a few days since hurricane Sandy reached the Northeast and caused havoc for millions. I remained in my apartment in New York City for three days with my two daughters without electricity or water. The days had their challenges but I noticed how my daughters and I all stayed together the entire time. We ate, slept, talked and played together. We laughed about the non-working toilet that was starting to smell and the hard biscuits I made in the dark. We played the board game Clue until the last bit of light was gone from the sky and we could no longer see the board. When I went to sleep the second night without power, I thought to myself: why hadn’t I played board games with them in such a long time? Why do I feel I know my children better after these three days? What was I doing that was more important than being with them?
Down the street, my brother also lost electricity and water in his apartment building. My brother and another man carried a neighbor who was wheelchair bound down the stairs and then went back up to carry down his wheelchair. My brother had never spoken to the man before and they lived on the same floor. They did not even know each other’s names. I have several friends who also met their neighbors for the first time after living in their homes for several years. What are we so busy doing that we do not know more of our neighbors?
After three days, we were invited to stay at a friend’s home in Brooklyn, which had power. When I had an opportunity to recharge my phone, it immediately started to beep with messages. Many friends were checking in from near and far to see if my family and I were alright. I heard from more people than I do on my birthday, each one with a message of love and concern. Again, I thought to myself, why don’t we send messages like these to each other more often? Why haven’t I spoken to some of these people for such a long time?
This hurricane has caused devastation for so many people. Lives have been lost and property has been destroyed. Yet, for those of us that have survived the storm, we still have the opportunity to make the most of whatever we face in the present and the future. This situation has offered me the opportunity to see the fullness of my life without all my modern conveniences, belongings and phone calls and meetings. It has allowed me to accept other people’s generosity and offer some of mine to others. It has brought up many questions for me, such as how can I stay more connected to the people in my life and be more active in my community?
So wherever you are today, I hope you can connect with your family, friends and neighbors, and your community, and hold them all a little closer to your heart. Maybe we can make a commitment to help one another rebuild what has been lost and stay connected even after the job is done.
It is clear to me that there is something more enduring than our homes and belongings. I believe it is our human spirit and ability to connect with each other on a more intimate level. Maybe we have been too busy living separate lives and achieving our personal goals that we are missing out on a very meaningful part of life; getting more involved with each other, and making deeper connections with the people that we come in contact with every day.
Wishing all of you the best.
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