People Will Rise

I’ve had the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” in my head for a few days now. You could hitch a ride there, but you can’t anymore. I guess I’m wishing I did when I had the chance.

The other day my friend said, “The storm really affected me. I don’t feel right,” and I realized I was feeling the same way. I’ve been in a funk ever since it happened. Looking at the pictures of devastation, hearing stories of friends who lost everything, worrying about our complete inability to do anything to address the issue of climate change.

When we started hearing reports of homes being swept off their foundations – or simply disappearing – I asked my husband, “What would we have done if we were in the evacuation zone?” His answer suprised me.

He said, “What’s essential?”

I said, “The kid’s pictures and videos and my computer.” He said, “That fits in a car. We pack all the essentials in the car and get the hell out.”

That actually soothed me. As long as I knew my family was safe, I could go on without a house. It would be devastating, but we’d survive.

When our power flickered out during the storm my son started to get panicky. I asked what was wrong and he said they learned in science class that if a massive solar flare happened, it would knock out all power on the planet and we wouldn’t get it back for a decade. I said, “They teach you this in science class??!!”

I went into calming mommy mode. I reminded my kids of what happened a year ago. We were without power for four days. We had huge tree damage in the yard. But we made it through, and we made it an adventure. We were almost sorry when the lights went back on and we had to return to real life. We took care of each other and other people helped us. We were okay, and we’ll be okay this time.

But the more unprecedented natural disasters we face, the harder it seems to convince them of that.

Of course this storm was immeasurably more devastating than our (what now seems little) October snowstorm, and it’s going to take years for the east coast to recover. There was terrible tragedy. And now in the aftermath, anger directed at public services, and people firing guns over gas.

But there are also people like this:

And impromptu parking lot trick-or-treating for kids:

And so many other moments of kindness, help, and support that remind me how people will rise. The worst challenges bring out the best in us. Many who helped others during last year’s storm say it was the best work of their lives.

My doctor once said to me, “Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures.” That quote comes to mind whenever I face an unknown, and it comforts me. He said, “It’s amazing what we can learn to cope with.” That’s resilience – and it’s what we need more and more as we head toward an uncertain future.

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