Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tornado Appreciation

Everybody's got a story, right?  Well, I've got a good one that I'd like to share.  A few weeks ago was the 23rd anniversary of the Hamden Tornado -- a significant event for me, because I lost my house during it.  Well, not the whole house, just the top of it.  And I suppose it wasn't exactly lost, but it was redistributed around the neighborhood in a very disconcerting manner, for sure.  It was an F4 tornado, with 300 mph winds that came down the chimney and sucked the roof right off.  While we were in it.

That experience turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  Seriously.

I found out a whole bunch of things about myself that I might never have known otherwise.  I found out how I react in a true emergency -- I ran into the cellar with my 3 year old son and shielded him under a doorway until it was over -- about 5 very long minutes.  I was the fierce mother lion protecting her young until a few hours later when we drove our shattered car up my mother's driveway to safety -- and I became completely hysterical for the only time in my life (so far).

I found out that losing nearly everything you owned was not such a bad thing.  I experienced enormous gratitude for the fact that no one was hurt -- not even my cat, who hid inside the dryer.  The fact that we had no home, little clothing, that most of our possessions were either sucked away or imbedded with glass, meant very little.  We were alive!

And -- my apparently relentless positive nature came to the forefront.  Within about two days of the event, I became irrationally excited.  I felt like I'd won the lottery!  If something this big and unexpected could just happen out of nowhere -- well, surely something fabulous was going to come of it.  I just knew it.  It was just too big to be meaningless or random.

As a result of the tornado, we were able to finally buy our own house with the renter's insurance money we received.  That was a dream come true for me, a dream that had been, until then, completely out of reach.  My son then grew up on a little Beaver Cleaver street and we walked to school together every day.  I met friends that I have to this day, that I likely wouldn't have met otherwise.  I learned really quickly that we don't need to be attached to our possessions at all -- there is always more stuff out there.  And that it doesn't hurt you a bit to lose nearly everything you own, it's actually quite cathartic!  Plus, I have enormous respect for the weather, and defer to it at all times.

Without the tornado, my life would likely have been very different.  Is it better?  I'll never know, but I think so.

The biggest life lesson from this event turned out to be:  it's not what happens to you that counts; it's what you DO with what happens to you that really matters.  I may not have had any control over that event in my life, but I did have a choice about how I reacted to it.

Twenty-three years later, I'm still working on applying that to everything else in life!  Simple, right?!

Right now, I'm choosing the hammock!
Love, MJ
p.s.  For those nearby, my monthly guided meditation group, Adventures in Meditation, begins again on Thurs. August 9th at 7:15 pm, at the Shoreline Center for Wholistic Health.  Please visit my classes & events page for details!  

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