Isaias, the storm that went up the East coast of the United States, left a mess in its wake. Hunkered down in my house, I watched as the trees bent every which way, and I was amazed at their flexibility and praying for them to withhold the gusts that picked up, and threw their tops into a tussle, and just as quickly receded, letting them go back to their erect, rigid posture. For a moment, there was calm, followed by torrents of water rivaling the wind in intensity. Chaos reigned, a cycle of furor as if the wind and water were taking turns showing off their strength. And then just as quickly the light began to change. The sun clearly fighting with the clouds to gain back the sky. And then it was over. The sun was shining and tranquility resumed.
It lasted an hour and a half at most, but the aftermath had no resemblance to what had been; in its place was a dusting of leaves, branches, and trees that had been thrown about and discarded as if they were just sticks, bandied about by a monster energy with no concern for where they landed.
Curious to see how everyone fared and wanting to charge our technology, now vital to our lives, we drove around. People walking, sitting on their front steps, or beginning to pick up the pieces. With no power anywhere, our routines were upended once again, but this time it felt like everyone was getting used to the disruption. The anxiety we had felt only a few months ago at having to change our way of life didn’t seem as intense. Maybe we are learning we can survive, that we are far more flexible than we previously thought because, as it turns out, we can adapt.
This is not new; every generation makes this discovery when faced with adversity: the discovery that we are malleable—in the same way the trees need to be pliable to survive the forces that confronted them. In times of chaos, flexibility is our asset; upright strength and rigidity crumble when faced with the inevitable forces that are bound to manifest in our path.
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