Monday, November 19, 2012

a sandy outlook

     At age 31, until a month ago, I would go so far as to say my life was been sheltered from true disaster. Sure, there was the occasional macro-burst of snow, sideways rain or the once annual nor'easter, but nothing that so directly impacted my own comfortable urban life. Until a month ago. Hurricane Sandy was a turning point not only for me but for all Tri-State residents. Life seems somehow different now, little annoyances once that once had the ability to ruin a day now trite so long as we can go home to a warm, lit apartment. There is pre-Sandy and post-Sandy, two eras so similar but so vastly different in the headspace they occupy.
     The sequence of events that transpired was one of true devastation for millions of individuals, the range of which is so broad it is impossible to encompass. In one state, homes afloat, live wires lining the streets, cars ravaged, children lost. And in other realms of the tri-state area, dark, frigid apartment buildings left vacant by helpless residents forced to evacuate. To deign to assign judgment to any one of these travesties as worse than another, to me, is a crime of self-serving ignorance. 
     I must put this into a frame of reference. During the hurricane and in the week long aftermath of Sadonic Sandy, many of my friends were lucky enough to be spared of her wrath, sitting comfortably in their warm homes, cooking, watching TV and watching the news. "How tragic", one would wax. "The horror for those are so lucky." another prescribed to me via email. "You cannot feel upset for not having power, look at everyone else". These words uttered by the very people who did not extend their hand to help in the aftermath -- did not offer a warm shower, a spare bedroom or a few feet of floor (hard, but warm) to sleep on. These are the "friends" who took to their social networks to insist that we all "help those in need after Sandy" while keeping close to their own bases, helping in no such way all the while they preached.
     Politicians wax of how we all must come together, hold hands and help our neighbors in the aftermath of a disaster. We should all donate and provide assistance, their prescriptive rhetoric making its way into the speech patterns of regular citizens. And therein lies the irony. People listened. They searched far and wide for ways to "help" others when in reality, they needn't have looked far -- only to their nearest, closest friends. Upon telling one particular friend of my difficult, trying situation post-hurricane, her reaction felt colder to the touch than my unheated wood floor. You must gain perspective, she said, I have friends who lost homes, cars, everything. You should feel lucky.Yes, I say, never did I assert I was the least fortunate in all of this. 
But I was unfortunate. Just like "all those other people", I lived through a trauma. I am one person who is hurting, and though there are so many others, each one individual contributes to the sum total of mass devastation. Gaining perspective can be valuable ...but so can understanding.

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