Early this morning, I ventured out to buy some “last minute provisions” for the coming hurricane, storm, calamity, natural disaster, apocalypse, all rolled into one. From reading and watching the media, you’d think we were in Aleppo, or Kabul, or Gaza, and not in the US where we’re supposed to be prepared and calm. I know, I know, it’s better to plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised. But the frenzy was so wild that I almost went out to buy a generator, a fecund cow, and a battalion of batteries!
I didn’t buy any of these things, but rather some apple sauce and gas for the car. I went out early, hoping to avoid the traffic and the panic. But every single wretched soul in the North East was at the grocery store, with long shopping lists that looked like decrees from Charlemagne, and earnest gazes into the sky. At 8:30 on a Sunday morning the world looked pretty ominous, and no one was at Starbuck (the “s” is missing, I know) sipping coffee. Everyone was mobilized–which is what we do well in the western world.
On the way home, I ran into a colleague and neighbor who is the world’s most relaxed man. He too was out, buying–something, anything. At the traffic intersection, we compared notes, sort of. He admitted that he had not cleaned the leaves in front of his home; he looked worried when he said this. The light changed, I waved off his concern with an outstretched arm, and off we went our separate ways.
By noon, the leaves were turning this way and that, there was a light drizzle. But truth be told, things did look somewhat ominous, or perhaps it was just all the talk that was pumped into my brain for the last 24 hours. (I lived through Black September in Jordan in 1971, could it be worst than that?) But the straw that broke my attention to the media was something some meteorologist wrote this morning about the big dilemma in his life. Paraphrasing now, but not exaggerating, believe me: He said that he had too much respect for the storm and at the same time did not want to scare people unnecessarily. Respect for the storm? That was it. I have already had it with the word respect which is used so much and with such permissiveness that I can’t possibly take anyone who talks about respect seriously. But respect for the storm was too much, so I am now officially boycotting all media reports, and sticking to my common sense. Let the world mobilize and respect.Let heaven take care of this meteorologist’s dilemma. He’ll survive, we all do make it through our dilemmas and into the promised land of contradictions. (That’s not my insight, I’ve stolen it from a dear friend.)
It’s mid-afternoon. The drizzle has persisted; cars are still driving up and down my street. The world is still with us, but we’re all waiting for Sandy’s coming with bated breath. She may fizzle out; she may change course (change course, yes, I like that…). She may simply go to New Jersey where such things always end up. She may hit the coast but not inland. We may be saved the worst of it. Who knows the ways of the wild, volatile Sandy? (I think her name is completely mismatched to her perceived ferocity; they–you know the ones who decide on names–should have named her something like Yekatarina, or Zemphira, or some such exotic name. But can anyone take a name like Sandy seriously?
Of course, I may regret all this nonsense that I am spouting out. I may regret every word of what I have here when the tree falls on my roof, the darkness and hunger and cold take over–like they have done to our brothers and sisters in Gaza, or Aleppo or scores of places the world over. It may happen. I may be silenced or humbled or simply thrown into the sea.
Do I hear the sound of the wind breaking through the silence? Has this thing begun?