72 Hours with Irene

People always seem to lament about a simpler time when life’s rush wasn’t so hurried.  It was possible to live and to love without 24 hour news, the Internet, or much more than just a transistor radio if you had power enough to turn it on.  People worried about what was immediate and local.  People talked to their neighbors and got a first had account of what was affecting people they could actually see and touch if they were so inclined.  I imagine that this is what our Grandparents must have experienced on just about a daily basis.  They were acutely aware of all of the details coloring their existence from one end of the block to the other.  They knew which of their neighbors were in trouble, which were in the clear and what it all meant to them.  They didn’t overreach, they didn’t over extend their emotions or interests, they simply used that information that was most basic and determined how well they and their families were doing based on clear and present facts, and tucked themselves into bed sure of what they knew and how they felt.

So went my 72 hours with Irene.  A storm that did more than fill basements with water and molest and destroy  trees here, there, and everywhere, it thrust me back about 70 years in terms of technology and mentality.  Enduring difficulty, in my opinion, is part of what makes life interesting.  Dealing with those circumstances’ which are unexpected is both exciting and challenging and forces you to pull from deep within to overcome.  This can be mental or physical or both, but it is always exhilarating.  Irene came blowing through and it swept away all modern conveniences that feed upon precious electricity for life.  No CNN, no refrigerator, no pumps to help corral the rising tide and no word from the outside world that couldn’t be delivered on my wife’s $4 baby travel alarm clock radio.  Within an hour of Irene’s arrival we traveled back to 1925 sitting by candle light listening for news between the static emanating from a 3”x3” baby radio.  Our immediate concerns and laser focus was for preserving our home by any means necessary by using muscle because technology was unavailable.  I got an education and fuller understanding of why families cherished the birth of sons, simply put, because they needed their muscle to survive more than for any other particular reason.  It seems that for all the things women can do baling out basements 5 gallons at a time is pretty much the bastion of men and my two available sons made 14 hours of it look like a day at the gym.  Working there, by the glow of a dim flashlight, they reminded me of my Italian immigrant ancestors who simply used their muscle to build a life and keep that life going.   They weren’t worried about their jobs or school or whether the Dow Jones was up or down, they needed to keep the water at bay, period.  We worked, we laughed, we ate, and we spent our time together engaged in something out of our past, and the world turned and we were free of the mental shackles that our modern world throws on us, without us even knowing it.

 The power eventually came back on and the outside world came rushing back in, poured all over us like some kind of funky oil that sticks to you no matter where you go or what you do.  Our worries broadened, our neighbors retreated back to positions in front of their televisions so they too could be seduced by all of the available information.  For all it’s worth the 72 hours we spent with Irene was  time well spent remembering what is most important, taking care of those closest to us and not once missing the rest of the world.


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