The dreaded hurricane that passed near NYC this weekend turned out to be more of a hiccup for city residents, though my heart goes out to the thousands in the tri-state area and New England who are still without power and/or who are dealing with the seeping devastation of flood damage.
Here in Battery Park City, the Hudson laps peacefully, and the air has a scrubbed-clean feeling. Eating my lunch in Hudson River Park, I felt a particular gratitude and appreciation for each tree – it was like checking in on old friends and being relieved to find they were all doing well.
Big storms bring us back to the basics: clean water, nourishing food, and most of all, our loved ones. Natural ‘disasters’ show us where our real priorities lie. All those things that seem so ‘important’ during day to day life – deadlines, productivity, etc… – suddenly don’t seem important at all. What is suddenly, vitally important is the safety of our fellow human beings – immediate family and friends, of course – but even distant family and neighbors you’re usually too “busy” to talk to. A friend posted on Facebook that she’d approached her neighborhood homeless man and asked him if he had a place to go for the storm? Then she gave him directions to the local evacuation shelter. So many people this weekend called to check in on me, people I hadn’t heard from in years. The storm showed me how much love fills my life, often unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of everyday routine, but brought out into stark relief in a crisis.
And my fellow New Yorkers continue to make me smile. As I navigated a gridlock of grocery carts in the neighborhood pre-storm shopping frenzy on Saturday, I couldn’t help but laugh to see what New Yorkers valued most in a moment of crisis. After bottled water, canned tuna and bread, what other items were being piled into New Yorkers’ shopping carts in droves? Dark chocolate and condoms, of course! Seriously, the employees couldn’t stock the shelves fast enough! (Hey, no judgment, those were my top priorities too!)
Before the weather report hit, I’d had an extensive “to do” list for this weekend. In the end, I did none of it. Instead, I spent the weekend enjoying the company of my Sweetheart, catching up with old friends, and reading great books. Thanks, Irene, for reminding me what’s really important in life.