Island and the Storm

Is it wrong to talk about good times when a swath has been cut across Oklahoma? Is it disrespectful or uncaring? While people are ravaged with suffering is it selfish to reflect on a weekend that is perhaps one of the best of my life?

It’s a question that bears consideration not just today in the aftermath of an EF4 tornado, but really, every day, when you consider the day to day life struggles of people just trying to survive. Every day there are those dealing with health issues, and loss, financial struggles, and home life struggles. There are deadlines, and projects, and grocery shopping and laundry.

And yet, I still gloat about my fantastic new retirement life. Somehow, I feel that I’ve earned this right after years of my own struggle in the workforce. Just like when I would gloat about my new husband, after slogging through years as a single woman, and handling life’s struggles alone.

So I gloat. I post photos of me lying on a beautiful beach and title it, “Monday at the Office.” I publicly delight in my midweek runs, or my slow quiet mornings with coffee, or my middle of the night Mad Men marathons. All the while there are friends struggling with their own private storms.

Is it thoughtless? Maybe. Does it spring hope for others trying to break away from the grind? I’ve been told that it does, but honestly, if it were me still tied to a desk it would just make my eyes burn green with jealousy.

Still, I have to believe that we are not made to wallow in a life of misery. Where there is hardship, and struggle, and even today, overwhelming suffering, there is still a life that brings hope and joy and fun and love. It’s there, running parallel, right alongside the suffering.

So today I won’t elaborate on the details of riding an electric bicycle up an island mountain where we hiked to the top surrounded by blue sky and blue ocean. I won’t gloat about the picnic lunch we packed, or the bison we saw, or the three mile downhill run. I won’t revel in the wetsuit bike ride to a quite bay that danced below the surface with kelp and wide eyed hungry fish. I won’t tell you about giggling with friends, or sharing a Monday at the Office moment either.

If I were to speak of such things I may appear heartless. But that’s not how I feel today as I wait by the phone for a deployment call from the Red Cross. I feel very full at the moment. Filled with sadness, compassion, and love for all those who have lost so much. I am filled with a need to do something to help. And at the same time, I am filled with the desire to bask in the afterglow of an incredible island weekend. It’s life. It’s two sides of the same coin. It what makes me human. As I celebrate the joy in my own life, I am equally saddened by the grief felt by others.  No man is an island.  No woman either.

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