Loss is a fact of life. Impermanence is everywhere we look. We are all going to suffer our losses. How we deal these losses is what makes all the difference. For it is not what happens to us that determines our character, our experience, our karma, and our destiny, but how we relate to what happens.
Lama Surya Das
A week ago last night, Central Virginia was hit with a Derecho, a wide-spread, straight line wind storm associated with a fast-moving line of showers and thunderstorms. We were not alone. Maryland, the DC area, and West Virginia also were hit hard. Trees fell on houses and cars, killing two in our area and thirteen people statewide, leaving millions without electricity for days and days. Some are still making do in their unlit homes.
My son, Mark, lives out in Ivy, a small community about seven miles west of here. He finally got power back this morning. He, his wife Jane, along with Max and Fergie, their two Scotties, stayed in a motel for a couple of nights and then went home to their cool basement. Jane has since gone out-of-town to visit a friend. We invited Mark to come and stay with us, but he just likes being home, even though he had to read by flashlight and couldn’t cook much except on the grill. I understand. I’m the same way.
Bill and I, on the other hand, were watching a movie when the storm hit. The wind seemed rather wild, but not as terrible as it apparently was. The lights and TV flickered on and off for about half an hour before we gave up and went to bed. In the morning, we discovered that the power had been off for about an hour during the night. There were lots of leaves and branches down in the yard and one huge branch from a nearby Sycamore was blocking the road. It was removed a couple of hours later by the City work crew, and we went about our lives, doing what we normally do, feeling extremely fortunate.
We’ve also been living through a heat wave for about two weeks, with temperatures in the high nineties or over the one hundred degree mark, with the heat index at one hundred and five to one hundred and nine degrees. It’s not comfortable to be out or indoors if you have no power. People up and down the East Coast, as well as throughout the Midwest have been suffering.
While we were comfortable in our air conditioning, out in the county, acquaintances of ours hunkered down through the storm. He was in the last stages of life because of cancer and Hospice would be arriving to help keep him comfortable as his body slowly shut itself down.
The storm had wreaked havoc in their area, blocking off their driveway and the roads to town. They couldn’t get out and nobody could get in. With no electricity and air conditioning, and with the situation being what it was, friends arrived and cleared a path so that they could get to town. Our neighbors, good friends of theirs, and ours, away for the summer, gave them access to their home as long as they needed to be there. On Thursday, the power at their home was finally restored and they went back. Within a few hours, Jay died, peacefully in his own bed.
It’s interesting that we call the electricity that warms and cools our homes and lights the dark, Power. Perhaps it is one of those things, along with bombs and rockets, that has made our country so powerful in the world.
But we really don’t have power or control over much. We can make threats to take out those who wish to disrupt our way of life, but in the end everyone loses. To me, the only real power exists in the forces of nature. No matter how much wealth we have, nature will have its way with us, bringing destruction in the form of tornadoes, fires, and earthquakes. It can also bring rebirth in a gentle, soothing rain that waters the crops that we depend on for food and sustenance.
In the end, the only power we possess is in the way we respond to the destruction and loss we all, in one way or another, experience. To step forward in a time of crisis and help those in need is power. To fight the fires now burning throughout the west is power, whether there is loss of life or not in the fight. It is nature’s way. We are all born into the blood and gore of life and we all die the same way, whether we have ten million dollars in our pockets or not. A starving child in India is no different than Donald Trump. The only difference is in the way they spend their time between birth and death.
I send blessings and thanks to all of those who have and will always help in times of need. I live amidst a large group of heroes.