Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Storm

A tornado roared near our town three days ago. We escaped the worst. We’ve been without power for over 72 hours but our home, garage, and cars are intact. Our neighbors: not so lucky. Many of their towering old trees broke in half or cracked along enormous limbs. These crashed down on power lines, minivans, and busy intersections.

I’ve heard it was a “microburst.” The skies were clear and then, wham, I saw my three-story-tall Black Walnut trees bending ferociously. The 80mph winds assaulted my lovely, old giants—but they didn’t break.

How did they bend in that murderous wind? I’m not a tree expert; maybe Black Walnuts are a heartier species? They must have been internally healthy.

The storm battered our psyches too.

My husband, Rick, hates fixing our home. But since he’s “the man of the house,” and knows more than I, the burden falls to him. Still, when something breaks, he often panics.

When we lost electricity in the storm, we thought, “no problem, minor glitch, it’ll be up soon, as usual.” But the hours passed and the sump pump basin filled.

Rick was in a downpour of panic now. He began to feverishly bail water from the reservoir. We didn’t have a backup generator. Without electricity our pump wouldn’t work.

I pitched in bailing as Rick carried buckets away. But the storm raged and after several hours we were only keeping pace with the incoming water. We couldn’t bail all night. Now it was late, stores were closing and we had few options.

Heart sinking despair.

But then, light pierces the clouds. Our angelic neighbor offers an outlet on his generator.

The next morning, we view the devastation. The wind had only raged for 10 minutes but the cleanup would take weeks. And the emotional storm? Rick and I pick through the rubble of feelings, trying to understand what happened. We’re learning: when we’re stuck in what we detest, emotions surge. Then we’re swept away by our alter-egos—those hidden parts of ourselves who can devastate plans. Or best intentions.

Why did some trees break? Were they brittle inside? Or diseased? They appeared healthy (at least to me).

The storms come, both inside and outside ourselves. Either way, we clean up the damage. Today we move tree limbs and clean warm refrigerators, hoping the electricity comes soon. Meanwhile, Rick and I try to learn from our emotions. We talk to keep ourselves from getting brittle. So that when the storms come, we can bend.

Laura Lewis-Barr is a writer, speaker, and trainer. She has taught and consulted at colleges in California and Illinois since 1991. For information on training or having Laura speak at your event, contact Laura at lauralewisbarr at Yahoo address.©Lewis-Barr 2007. Please include entire contact information if reprinting this article.

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