I always considered myself lucky and grateful. Knowing I never necessarily "deserved" what I had and could just have easily been born anywhere. I guess while I always knew this and knew I never deserved anything I had, I was always truly grateful for what I did have. Not that I haven't worked hard for where I am, but I had no control over where I began.
I have to admit that living through Sandy has been challenging for reasons I never imagined. I feel ridiculously guilty for sitting here on Friday evening, watching the NBC concert in my electricity-filled apartment, after recently purchasing pizza and wine from our local pizzeria and wine shop. I was able to take a subway, or bus if I wanted and never suffered any type of flood or property damage and kept our electricity and hot water for the entire storm!
Sitting here all week and watching the news 24 hrs a day has been a necessity for me. It has all be so surreal and sad. In part, having an office without power has somewhat aided in my 24/7 news coverage. I have pretty much been planted on this very couch since Sunday evening 10/28/12. When I learned Sunday evening that work was canceled for Monday, I have to admit, I was super excited. It was like being a little kid again and having a snow day. Monday evening when things had canceled again for Tuesday, it was still pretty exciting. Like having a snow day, but before I realized what the devastation would look like. It really wasn't until around 11:00 p.m. that I think anyone realized what was happening. The flooding downtown, the Hudson meeting the East River in Manhattan, the subway lines, tunnels flooding, and cars flooding. A fire raging in Breezy Point that no one could get to because the water was too deep. Dumbo Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Staten Island being underwater. People losing their homes, businesses, family and friends and memories. I have no doubt people will rebuild, but why don't I have to rebuild too?
I found myself crying on the couch this evening watching the concert because while I knew this all happened where I live, it has been very easy to separate myself here on the Upper East Side. It really has been necessary too because it is all so hard to watch and so sad :( It has been easy to live in a bubble of sorts. We lost some trees and branches in our parks that I am saddened by, however nothing compares to the devastation of Staten Island the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Hoboken and the Jersey Shore, etc.
As I sit here on the Upper East Side with my power and look around how other folks have been affected, it makes me question so much. There is no reason why my property is ok and others are not. I mean of course there is the fact of how far above sea level my apartment level is, but I mean more in the philosophical sense. I could have just as likely ended up in Hoboken, or the Rockaways or Staten Island. Greg and I knew NOTHING about NYC when we relocated and I just happened to find this apartment and we just happened to like this apartment.
It reminds me, in a very sobering way, that as humans, we really are all one. We need to take care of one another. It has also been challenging, because as I have heard so many say, there is a huge difference between being inconvenienced and being devastated. There are so many who lost loved ones, children, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons and beloved animals and family pets. There are rescue workers, doctors, nurses and firefighters who have lost all they have, yet they continue to serve others because when it comes down to it, the human spirit is a truly amazing and beautiful thing. I continue to hope beyond hope that we can find ways to find this common humanness even without a national tragedy. I feel like I say this each and every time, but I really like to think at some point it will be the truth. I have to keep faith in humanness!!
I have found myself thinking of the Caribbean areas that were also affected, Haiti, etc. It made me think of the earthquakes, tsunamis and floods that have occurred across the entire world. It has made me think of all of the suffering in a much different way. I still cannot truly understand, as I have not personally been affected. I feel like as a NYer, I see this all in a new way. I feel like there is so much we can do to help others in times of need. I only wish there was a way to help everyone, all the time! It makes me sad to think that those in Haiti may be suffering so much, but this time, NY, NJ and CT are suffering too, so we are looking to help home, first. Please don't get me wrong, I agree with needing to help where we can, it just makes me think of all those suffering beyond the TriState that are also suffering.
It can honestly be overwhelming at times to think of all of the need out there. But when I take a step back, I have to remind myself that I am not just a "have" in this scenario, meaning I have power. I am also a have in regards to the fact that I am not homeless (I have an apartment) I am not hungry (I have food) I am not sick or in the hospital (I have my health). I guess I have never thought of myself as a "have" before, but after so much talk about the haves and the have nots lately, in regards to power in the TriState area, I have begun to extrapolate it outwards.
I had already felt guilty about Sandy and it has led me to feeling a bit guilty in general. There was so much I was taking for granted that I should not have been. I feel like I really try my best to be grateful every day. The past few days I have really been struggling with my feelings. I have been trying to figure out what I was really struggling with. In the end, it is really because I have escaped this awful disaster and I don't understand why. This reminded me, yet again, that there was no "why" I just got lucky. I need to continue to be grateful.
I have to be honest and admit that we lost our cable for 1/2 hour. I actually found myself super annoyed when we lost cable. Now, mind you, this was Wednesday. Most people had already been without power for two full days and there I was bitching about being without cable for 1/2 hour. What was wrong with me? I actually looked at Greg, caught myself in my ridiculous moment and had to laugh. I guess in this first world life of mine, there are some things I have become accustomed to, heat, fresh available water, electricity, mass transit and anything I could possibly imagine, delivered.
It made me remember all those folks in so many third world countries who walk MILES for access to fresh water. It reminded me of all of those people who could be saved by the purchase of a mosquito net or access to a $25 immunization shot. It reminded me that so many don't have cable, don't have T.V., don't have indoor plumbing, don't have heat, and don't have access to a computer or electricity, in general and are happy and content. I am not trying to take anything away from all of the devastation in Dumbo, Staten Island, Breezy Point, The Jersey Shore, etc. There has obviously been devastation. There has been a ridiculous loss of life and it is so sad. It is so overwhelming to see the pictures and I want noting more than to make a difference, donate all I can and help. Whether it be dropping off items, picking up a shovel and helping to dig out, or give someone a hug.
What am I trying to say? I guess I am trying to say that when I pause and take in the gravity of suffering of humans across the world, it is overwhelming. It makes it hard for me to breath. It brings on anxiety and I am not even sure how to handle it all. Sometimes I think I have too much empathy, sometimes I think I worry about too many things I cannot control, but I cannot help it. I see people suffering and it hurts my heart, it hurts my soul. People suffering in Jersey and NYC just reminds me of the suffering that happens all across the world every minute of every day. I think it is rushing to me so heavily right now because this current disaster is so close and so raw. This raw emotion makes all other human suffering suddenly feel more heavy, more depressing and more real.
I have been sitting here all week trying to figure out how I can make a difference, saying nothing but, I want to help. Yet, here I still sit, totally overwhelmed and not sure where to start. People have sent me volunteer opportunities, places to donate in-kind items, but here I still sit, totally overwhelmed by the gravity of human suffering. Tonight I donated to the Red Cross, via text and also a Rockaway fundraising initiative, but I almost feel like volunteering is more important. I feel like I am being selfish in my stewing in anxiety and overwhelming feelings.
I feel awful and wrong that I complained about my cable being out for 1/2 hr, when people in the TriState area had no power, no electricity, no food, not hot water, lost their entire house, all possessions, and even family members and friends. I feel awful for complaining because there are people in Africa walking miles for access to fresh water, or dying from malaria because they don't have access to mosquito nets to protect them from malaria. There are people who don't have enough food and go hungry, not only in 3rd world countries, but also in our own country. There are so many people who are homeless and who go to bed hungry every night. People who don't have access to the medicine they need, the mental care they need to be supported by, etc. I feel awful for complaining about anything, ever. I guess the sad lesson here, is that it is all relative. We have all become accustomed to a certain way of life. Aside from loss of property and loss of life, I feel like I truly need to be better about being grateful. As I said, up until this week I thought I was really good about being grateful and showing my gratefulness, however after this week I don't know what to think.
I can only hope that I as continue to grow up and become an adult I will find a way to find my place in the world in a way that makes a difference. It makes it hard for me to breath and I can only hope that if I meditate on it, I can find a way to not be so saddened by it all, as it is a bit paralyzing, to be honest. I can only hope that we begin to listen to our planet and to mother nature. This is only going to get worse folks. Imagine if this continues to happen, over and over and over. We need to get out ahead of this, pay attention to the climate and stop laughing and joking about science. We will regret it one day!
So, in an effort to focus on the good in humanity and to focus on the love and light that our world is full with and in an effort to put positive thoughts and energy out there, please do a human check before you judge, put down, hurt or anger someone else. Please do a human check before you make fun of someone bully someone, or walk away. If you can donate $10 to a cause that matters to you, please do. You know yourself best and you know what will settle your soul most.
Looking forward to a better tomorrow....
and that's all she wrote....
AFFIRM OUR ONENESS
"To all people, religious and nonbelieving, I make this appeal. Always embrace the common humanity that lies at the heart of us all. Always affirm the oneness of our human family.... Let not your differences from the views of others come in the way of the wish for their peace, happiness, and well-being." ~ Dalai Lama