After the Storm

So the storm has passed, and Hurricane Irene has blown back to sea from whence she came.  I drove this morning to the nearby shore, anxious to reunite with my ocean, my sands, my boards.  Prohibited to enter the area while Irene twirled through town, I worried about the devastation I might see.  This, after all, has become sacred ground for me—my church pew, my meditation room, my workout space.

Thankfully Irene’s damage was minimal, swirls of sand piled up on the boardwalk, some flooding in a restaurant, lost power in a couple of the shops.  Not much had changed, and yet it felt different.  Electric.  Buzzing.  More alive.  Stronger than ever.

Joggers thumped past, bicyclists whirred by, others walked along like me.  Bustling boardwalk staff lugged their tables and goods back outside, hosed down their awnings, shoveled off the sand drifts.  Posters tattered at their edges hung on defiantly to advertise an upcoming beer festival, concert, and roller derby.  There were no heart-shaped pieces of sea glass or stones on the beach today, only broken shells and flecks of seaweed strewn through the drenched sand.  But the sunshine beat down, and the waves crashed gently against the rattled shore.

And then it dawned on me.  Something I already knew, deeply, viscerally, but had shoved aside….

We go on.  Life goes on.

We suffer, we ache, we wander and search aimlessly.  We play our guts out and fall short.  We discover a beautiful shell, and its sharp edge nicks our finger.  We stumble on an uneven board.  We aim the dart but miss the balloon.  We glare at the stars and wonder if we should curl up in a corner, give it all up, disappear.  We stare down a blank wall, overwhelmed by the empty space.  We choke on a buffet of what-if’s and what-now’s.   We love our hearts out and lose. 

The storm takes a chunk of summer, and us, along with her.  We feel tattered and torn, sad and lost, frayed around the edges.  And then, just like the ocean waves and boardwalk, we pick ourselves up, shake the sand off, and slowly put one flip flop in front of the other.  A cool breeze brushes our face and we suddenly feel comforted by the thought of pumpkins, football, roller derby, and sweaters.  And we go on.  Perhaps not too changed on the outside, but very different indeed.  Electric, buzzing, more alive.  Somehow stronger after the storm.