I was a worrisome child. I’ve not shared that with many people, and I seem like a pretty happy go lucky person to most, and I’m glad I appear that way, but it’s a practice of choosing action over worry.
The truth of the matter is that I had constant nightmares about very serious things that you’d not imagine an 8 or 9 year old kid thinking about. Nuclear war. Landfills filled, trash in the streets, and everyone drinking dirty water. People with skin covered in boils because the ozone is gone. Kids with guns, going to war. Kids fending for themselves, all the parents and adults just… gone.
And I worried when I was awake, too. I felt terrible when I made a misstep, thinking for months and months about some things that I had done. The concept of penance sat a little deeper than perhaps even the Catholic Church itself would prefer. I threw a rock once at the beach, just chasing and diving for it, and an errant throw cut a neighbor kid’s eyelid open. He needed stitches. I still think about it. I’m 33.
But after the pretty tumultuous decade that was my 20s (job loss! debt! deaths in the family! no health insurance! breakups! debt!), I’ve learned that the worrying that made me physically ill did no work to make my life better, but was indeed hard work in itself. Worry, hoping, and to be frank, praying… those things aren’t real work and they can distract you from what’s important which is living HERE, NOW.
Getting ready for Hurricane Sandy took days and we were thinking and watching long before we knew she was even going to make landfall on the east coast of the US. It took a lot of reading and looking at charts and reading constantly-changing forecasts. Colin made chafe protection and extra lines to the mooring we’re on, and we ran an extra anchor based on the forecast and should the mooring break. Observation and decision-making, then a two hour serious discussion about the most important thing: should we stay with Mimi Rose, our home, and protect her should we get the chance, or should we go ashore and seek shelter. We’re ashore as we would not want to put anyone else in harm’s way to come get us if something did go wrong.
When I say “We’ll see,” it’s not with Devil-may-care attitude. It’s with intent. I can’t see now what will happen, but I will see. And when I do there will be more work to do.
Even yesterday, as we rowed away from Mimi Rose and pulled our dinghy up on land (which a shipyard took and stored in a tennis court, and they even gave us a trailer to put it on, not a word about charging us money), there we were, just two bags and a dog in tow. We didn’t know where we were going, and I wasn’t worried at all. There would be shelters and friends of friends. There would be a place for us. I worked hard to find that… Colin and I both did. Two people on foot with a dog? A ride to a safe place and a lady who loves dogs… CHECK.
So I don’t worry. We’ll see. I hope for things but I keep that quiet. I’m a hopeful creature all in all but I think it’s because of my extensive network of good people, dear friends and new friends and huge family, that I’ve always survived very well. I also have some street smarts and an awareness that in the end, I am the pilot of my life. I alone can use my abilities and my knowledge to navigate well and come out ahead.
I’ve recently been in contact with Colin’s mom’s friend Mike who said these very sage things about our situation in Port Washington, NY. She had mentioned her worry, and he had this to say:
The last briefing I received was Friday about noon, Central
Daylight Time from several aerodynamicists and thermodynamicists at St.
Cloud U. Yes, I know them and I trust their perspective.
I’ve been following Sandy, too, though without the personal
interest you have. Currently the Navy sites and the National Weather
Service Hurricane Center have consistent forecasts. The storm is
likely to come ashore at about the Baltimore region and the rain
chances there are for the heaviest precipitation. The Port Washington,
NY location is not in the heaviest rain area.
Hurricanes have their storm surge areas on the coast on the
north side of the storm. This places the Port Washington, NY area in
the prime region for storm surge. On the other hand, Sandy is NOT a
terribly strong storm, that is, the maximum sustained wind is just
barely above hurricane force (about 75 mph). This minimizes the storm
The other good news is that the Port Washington, NY location is
VERY well protected since is lies on the lee side of the Long Island
landmass in a very protected small bay. It’s a traditionally safe
harbor and it’s fairly far away from New York Harbor. So, although I
prefer to be in Pittsburgh or Chicago, they are in a safe harbor. I
think you can relax a great deal. They’re not out in the Atlantic
Even if the storm track changes (and they do that), this is not
the “Perfect Storm” that reminds everyone of the movies. It’s not the
“Perfect Storm” that television news likes to prattle on about, and TV
“news” loves to put broadcasters on the beach, for some dramatic
reasons only an advertiser could love.
So, they sound as if they are in a very good location indeed.
By the way, Facebook is a lousy way to gain news of
anything beyond the latest pictures of “the baby” or “the birthday
party.” For one thing, people write something then forget about it or
the anxiety anyone else might have.
And secondly, Facebook is not very emotive: it’s a “cold
medium” as Marshall McLuhan wrote. That is, Facebook’s emphasis on
short, pithy phrases, images, the banal in life robs it of emotional
It’s a little like investigating medical topics on “The
Internet”: woefully inadequate and full of promotional dreck.
I told him I appreciated his thoughts, and then he said, very eloquently:
And it’s the emotional capacity of humans that gives life meaning.
That same emotional content also makes all the science (even math)
possible. We’ve all had instructors or professors who lectured or
presented without passion: deadly. Curiosity is spurred by that
feeling level wedded to thinking.
Thanks for writing something. I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon,
since I used computers and networks constantly. There are limits,
All the best to all the people on boats and on land. Be smart. Safety will follow.