Before I start babbling, I want to send a heartfelt prayer to everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. Although I am extremely grateful for the return of my power, I am also sensitive to those who are still waiting.
I know how disheartened I was feeling on Thursday and can’t imagine how you are feeling on Day Six. So to you, and all those who lost much more than electricity, much love coming your way. #staystrong
I live in New Jersey and five days ago we experienced one of the worst hurricanes in the history of the world. Wow, that sounds rather dramatic, but it’s true!
Today, after four long days without electricity or heat, I am feeling more grateful than I can ever remember feeling. EVER!
Living without power for that long provided a lot of time to THINK.
Here is some of what I learned…
- As grateful as I am, I definitely take a LOT for granted
- Electronic devices are a HUGE part of my life
- Cats don’t notice or care when they don’t have electricity
- A pen and paper can keep you very busy
- The iPhone is an AMAZING invention
- Candles are an AMAZING invention
- The iPhone is NOT just like having a computer
- The battery life on iPhones and iPads seems a lot shorter when you need to charge them in your car
- Peanut butter and jelly is really delicious
- Flipping on light switches when you enter a dark room is a subconscious habit
- People will surprise you
- I’m not at thoughtful as I thought I was
The biggest thing I learned, which I truly believe will make me a better person is this:
When you are experiencing a personal misfortune,
the rest of the world carries on,
and it can feel like no one really cares.
Now I KNOW that isn’t true and I hesitate to write it, because I know it might make some of you feel bad.
I write it because it has been such an eye-opener for me.
It was absolutely surreal to be watching the continuous coverage on all the major networks one minute, and be completely cut off the next. It was very scary to be in THE place they were filming, and then be unable to find out what the HECK was happening.
Even the radio in my car didn’t work.
Where did everybody go???
When my iPhone started working again, I went to the first place I could think of to find out what was happening~ FACEBOOK! And, in my self-consumed state, it felt as if no one knew or cared what we were going through.
I saw jokes, inspirational quotes and lots of political junk, even complaints about football teams, none of which were comforting.
It was like an episode of The Twilight Zone, except it was very real. It was like my world came to a screeching and dramatic halt, but everyone else was living as usual.
How dare they!
I now understand that only others in the affected areas could share this daunting, haunting feeling of not knowing what was happening. It was not that people didn’t care, because they did. They just didn’t know how alone we felt.
How could they?
I began to think of all the other hurricanes and earthquakes and snowstorms which have not affected us here in NJ, and I started to feel guilty about not being better at reaching out during those times.
There have been many hurricanes in North Carolina and I didn’t always call my brother to make sure he was OK. He was, but I wonder if he wished I had called. Worse yet, I wonder if he noticed that I didn’t.
There have been earthquakes in California and I didn’t reach out to friends who live there. I assumed they were fine and they were. I now know how much that email or phone call may have meant to them.
I’m not proud of this, but I am more aware.
So here are my takeaways…
- I will do a better job of being empathetic when others, near or far, are in the midst of a natural disaster.
- I will donate more quickly and more generously.
- I will make phone calls, send emails and texts, just to let people know they’re in my thoughts.
- I will NOT assume the person who might be affected by the disaster is too busy for my email, phone call or text.
I will also NOT assume all the wonderful people (many of whom, I’ve never even met!) who went out of their way to check in with me, know how much I appreciate them.
It has been six days since the power went out here in NJ. I was very fortunate to have mine restored on Day Four. Many, many others are still waiting, and I wrote many of their names on my 10-10 list today. I look forward to hearing from you that it worked TODAY!
October 28, 2016 Update:
Today, four years later, I now live in the town this video was shot from.
Click on this image to see the video
Grateful to be here now and more grateful I wasn’t here then.