Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later

Note: This originally ran shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. In light of a one year commemmeration, it seemed appropriate to do it again.

Putting it in perspective

This column was not supposed to happen; instead, I was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Louisiana this day. Mother Nature had other ideas delivered as hurricane Katrina.

With indescribable sorrow and mouth agape at the sight of such awfulness, I cannot pull myself away from the plight of the Gulf Coast. Robotically, I shake my head and repeat numbly, "There but for the grace of God, go I." It could just as easily have been an earthquake or Tsunami bringing national cameras to scrutinize my family in our most intimate, broken moments struggling to hold together, adrift, frightened, and cold in the worst of all worlds.

Due to the unsympathetic force of nature and the rearrangements being made, I have lost income. Yet compared to my friend and associate, Myra, my costs pale. Where she lived has no roof and is full of water. In spite of that, she describes herself as "fortunate." She spent today helping families with less. I am privileged to know her.

So very fortunate am I that I take blessings as common-day events. When involved in the confines of day-to-day existence, I have been known to whine bitterly about sluggish traffic, jammed faxes, or misplaced keys. Broken shoelaces, missing shirt buttons, or ants on my sink irk me endlessly.

I presume my daily misadventures can indeed be labeled "problems," and yes, they are frustrating. At the same time, reality is they are so insignificant. Too often, I become too self-centered to remember that. The dropped cellular call or the unexpected invoice becomes the world's prime catastrophe. I puff up and spout off, grumbling to my friends, who nod in agreement. We are bonded by our miseries. When we rule the world, things will change.

In a world that can shatter instantly, where unfathomable countless thousands lack shelter, shed tears for loved ones, or cannot find food, I bemoan that I have to count fat grams or cut back on dessert. Can I even know how many pray to be in my shoes?

Peace of mind requires that I remind myself that my tribulations and troubles are usually miniscule. Put it in perspective. Life is rich. Keep it that way; shut the refrigerator door.

No comments: