Today’s contemplation was hard for me.
Y’all know I’m from New Orleans, and even though I was attending university in Colorado when Hurricane Katrina crushed my childhood home (not to mention so many others on the Gulf Coast), I was definitely traumatized. I can only imagine what my Southern-dwelling kin went through being at Katrina’s heart.
The image of a herculean hurricane is burned into my memory.
Before Katrina, and before my personal “Journey to the West”, I remember the storms of my youth. All the evacuations, all the worry while away, all the prayers for safety and gratitude we all prayed together, huddled in hotel rooms. I remember my mom (of blessed memory) always having, at the ready, “hurricane style” oil lamps, and several of the old-school, black-and-red plastic flashlights, like everybody’s grandparents had. Nash Roberts (also, of blessed memory) was tuned into the television, and under penalty of an ass-whippin’, that’s where New Orleans’ most trusted human resource on hurricane activity would stay. We had prepared plans and reconnoitered routes for running far away. Along with things like axes in the attic, suitcases on standby, and our adamantine resolve to, no matter what happens, keep on keepin’ on, we readied ourselves as best we could. We took care of the things that were in our control, and left to Fate the things that weren’t.
And it’s from the last few sentences above where today’s take-away lesson (for me) was born.
We all knew that we could, during any of the myriad evacuations in which me and mine participated, perhaps, not return to things as we’d left them… if we could come back at all. We all knew that no amount of being alive away from home could ever fill the holes left by the washed-away elements of the very things that made those now-drowned places home. We all knew that the day before evacuating that the last bites of our cultural food, food that you can’t just get anywhere else, may have been our last.
We all knew that hidden deep in our bones, and the bones of our forebears, and from bones so old their stories are forgotten… hidden deep in all those bones was the tale of a surviving people. A people, who over time, have trained an, “... adamantine resolve to, no matter what happens, keep on keepin’ on…”, and who practiced, every year during hurricane season, takin’ care of the business within our control, and not botherin’ with shit outa our control.
We didn’t know we had this super-power because of some kind of legend or myth, or because of some kind of make-believe origin. No. That’s not how we knew.
We knew because this power was born from all our collective lived experiences of doing, surviving, and sometimes failing facing the storm. Sometimes preparations worked and were passed on. The ones that didn’t work were quickly forgotten, but not the spirits of their architects.
Our emotions, dear readers, are like those uncontrollable storms. They’re going to come, and some will miss us and some will drive, full-force, right over us. We cannot stop them from coming. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you some bullshit. It’s as impossible to stop our passions and emotions as it would be to turn off the switch of a hurricane.
All we can do is prepare.
When done right, we can keep on keepin’ on.
When not, much suffering is all that remains.
Remember, hurricane season is only 6 months long.
It’s emotion season year round.
(See y’all tomorrow)