"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Thursday, September 09, 2004
pan-ic Function: noun
Etymology: French panique, from Greek panikos, literally, of Pan, from Pan
1 : a sudden overpowering fright; especially : a sudden unreasoning terror often accompanied by mass flight
2 : a sudden widespread fright concerning financial affairs that results in a depression of values caused by extreme measures for protection of property (as securities)
3 : how some people react to most events
I think my wife's family is descended from squirrels.
Ever since I've known them, whenever they are faced with a real (or imagined) crisis they go into squirrel mode with a vengeance. Bouncing off the walls, running to and fro in a panic, and I'll bet they would jump from tree to tree if they could.
I've always been different than that. I am one of those people whose emotions pretty much shut down in a crisis, and I handle the task at hand with a cold clear logic. I decide on an action, and do it. Maybe more of a bear than a squirrel, or even a dog. Yeah, maybe dog is the right animal.
If a bunch of people were in a room and it caught fire, the squirrels run for the door immediately. People like me tend to run towards the fire to try to put it out.
Us dogs tend to not make it out of the room, statistically.
Perhaps that's why there are so many squirrels out there.
Anyway, my wife's family lives in central Florida. Last week was not a good time for squirrels in central Florida, since they were hit by two hurricanes in quick succession.
When Isadore took aim at the state, the state evacuated the coastal areas, and rightly so. The most deadly part of a storm like that can be the storm surge, which few structures can stand against. Combine that with a state that sometimes seems to be made of mobile homes, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Now, let me point out, none of my wife's family lives in a coastal area. They live almost dead center between the coasts. Also, none of them live in mobile homes or manufactured housing.
In short, they are as safe as they can be. Which doesn't matter as the events play out.
My sister in law has a PHD in squirrelology. For example, my son had about an inch of water in one room during the recent major flooding here, and to her it translated to "major devastation" of his home. Anyway, she is the one who got the ball rolling last week.
She called her mother (my mother in law) and told her about all the evacuations, and told her how dangerous it was going to be with all the trees around my mother in law's home, and how that home would be destroyed and how she would not only lose everything she owned but probably would die too.
Now, remember, this is CENTRAL Florida, 70 miles from the coast.
My mother in law looked at her boyfriend and said "I'm leaving in fifteen minutes, with or without you." He packed.
Both of them are, by the way, in their eighties.
So off they went and no one had a clue where they were. Her boyfriend, Jim, has a cell phone but he turns it off when he isn't talking on it. He also has never taught himself how to check messages on his voice mail.
The storm bore down on the state, and by now the entire family is in a tizzy. No one has heard from my mother in law for hours. My wife is beside herself and very angry at her sister, with good reason.
Eventually, we get a phone call from my sister in law. "Mom just called, she is in a hotel in Georgia. She is so upset, she sounds like a little mouse with no home (sob)."
I'm not even going to try to express what I was feeling when I heard that.
So, the storm hit, and it took its sweet time crossing the state. By the next morning, it had just made it to central Florida, and was heading generally north. My wife calls the hotel where her mother is.
Her mother has checked out. She is driving home. Into the hurricane.
It's a day and a half before my wife is able to find her mother again. She does manage to get Jim's cell phone to ring, but her mother picks it up, says hello, and turns it off. No one turns it back on.
When my mother in law gets home she finds that one tree has fallen and slightly clipped her barn causing minor damage. She didn't lose power, phone, or even cable.
Now, understand me, I am not making light of those who lost so much in this storm, it's just the fact that these people I am talking about were not in the real danger zone that bothers me. Even more, there is the sequence of panicked actions that were taken without checking, that resulted in a useless flight from a storm that was elsewhere followed by a many hour trip through horrible weather with a whole family unaware of where their loved one was.
Can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em.
Why is it that so many people live so surrounded by fear? Whether you call it fear, anxiety, drama, whatever, I would venture to say that well over three out of four people live their lives this way, constantly afraid of something or other, constantly worrying about something or other.
I just simply can't imagine that our forefathers dealt with this to such a magnitude. Sure, there were wars and despots and diseases and famines, but if they could but live in our society, now, they would think it paradise.
Yet, so many who live right in the middle of this do so in constant trepidation. Bogeymen stalk the corriders and hallways, and we have a higher incidence of event driven mental illness than any generation before us.
Something is very, very wrong.
And I'll bet it has something to do with squirrels...
Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them.