Saturday, October 29, 2016

Edison and Opportunity

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Thomas Alva Edison

Monday, October 24, 2016

Loving an Inanimate Object

Considering that some of you know what my sense of humor is like you’re reading the title and already getting worried. No problem. I’ll behave on this one.

Hurricane Matthew’s devastation has touched thousands of people in a variety of ways. On Friday afternoon I realized how it had touched me.

I stopped by the mini-warehouse in which I had stored most of my belongings when I had to move last March. I discovered that about 80% of what I had stored had been destroyed. 

Evidently the water had gotten up to about 10 inches inside the storage units. Bookcases, thousands of dollars in books (many are beautiful coffee table editions), a 75-year old radio that belonged to my grandmother, a photo album my mother created for me before she died, mattresses, and a range of other belongings are now gone.

Now, many of you know how I love books so you understand my sense of loss. Few experiences bring me the joy of being in a bookstore. In fact, if you took all my other possessions and left me with my books I’d be happy.

By the way, the irony is that Saturday morning I got a call from the storage unit owners to ask if I had stopped by. Two weeks after the storm they were calling to inform me that there might have been some damage. Thank you for the timely alert.

Interestingly, on Sunday, while on a trip to Virginia (Go Heels! they beat UVA 35-14!) I stopped by the museum complex in Richmond to see a Thomas Jefferson exhibit. When I stepped up to the desk to get our tickets I was told the museum was having it’s annual….wait or it….used book sale. 

At $10 for a box of books I was in heaven. In fact, I found 3 of the books water had destroyed and was able to replace them. 

All you can do in times of loss and waste is get back up and keep moving. I recently saw a great line that said, “The definition of greatness is getting knocked down 5 times and getting back up 6.” 

Am on the way back up; you can be, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why Did God Do This to RobCo?

"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." Michael Pritchard

Please keep my friends in Lumberton, NC, in your thoughts and prayers My hometown is underwater and without power. It may take a week to restore power in some areas. Over 1,000 people were stranded and are being rescued by boat crews. Many of the stories I've seen on the major network news shows have focused on the poorer neighborhoods, but from what I understand many of the homes in a couple of the nicer communities have 5 feet of water in them. Few have been spared from the damage.

Makes you kind of wonder about the grand scheme of things. Lumberton is the county seat of Robeson County, one of the poorest counties in the nation. Any list of negative community issues you see will probably have Robeson County somewhere in the Top 10.

The event sets up some interesting questions/thoughts; some of which are based on faith...nor not:
1. Some of my more literal-thinking friends might ask, "What did RobCo do to deserve this?" Things were already incredibly difficult for a lot of folks.
2. "Why would God do this to us?" Good question. Followed by, "What's God trying to tell us?" And then, "Is God punishing us and, if so, what'd we do?"
3. "Why didn't someone plan for this possibility?"...another good question...
4. "What can we learn from this?"
5. "Who will help us?"
6. "What's next?"

Here's my stab at answering some of them
1. RobCo didn't do anything to deserve what happened; that's a knee-jerk, emotional response.
2. God didn't do this--if He/She/IT did it at all--to punish anyone or teach a lesson (other than, if you live near a river in an area blessed with hurricanes every year you'll get some flooding). I'm about as far from a Bible-thumper as you can get, but I can tell you that whatever that Spirit is that's out there--if you believe in IT--doesn't do things to punish us. IT's all about good.
3. If you have a highly-paid group of county commissioners who squabble and can't come to decisions about things that really matter it's hard things that really matter. Also, if your county is one of the poorest in the country it's highly likely that the resources to create an infrastructure that can withstand what hit RobCo won't be available on the local level nor allocated on the state or federal level until it's too late.
4. See Answer #2 above...if you live in low-lying areas and it rains this is what happens. That sounds cold-hearted, especially to folks who can't afford to move, but it's a fact.
5. You, your neighbors, RobCo folks who left but will return to some degree the state and feds. The key to the state and fed money, though, will be to watch it very closely when, or if, it does show up.
6. Two news areas to watch: In 48 hours you won't see any more stories in the national news. The silliness of the election will continue to overwhelm the media and there will be the usual murders/carwrecks/disasters-on-the-other-side-of-the-world that will dominate the news. In a week you'll see very few in local/regional news. A year from now someone will do a retrospective to show how people have or have not recovered. Locally, some folks will rebuild, some won't be able to rebuild and they'll live with what they have left. Some will move.

Considering the economic situation in RobCo the bigwigs won't pay much attention to it as time moves on. To the big boys and girls the damage in Lumberton is not 9/11. But, what we need to remember is that to the people who live in Lumberton, to the people of Godwin Heights, Tanglewood, East Lumberton, North Lumberton, and South Lumberton, this IS a 9/11 event.

Here's what we need to consider: Right now emergency teams from the National Guard, power companies, EMTs, DOT, and other government agencies are focused on RobCo and, especially, Lumberton, in order to get the area back to minimal levels of power and living conditions. When a lot of us need to get involved is when the teams leave. A month from now those of us who are Lumbertonians and are living outside the area need to come together to see what needs to be done and how we can help.

Again, keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers. Go Pirates.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Flan and Busting Her Fanny

During Hurricane Matthew’s visit to North Carolina a friend and I visited some folks for dinner.  Among the guests were two sisters, 13 and 10. They were a delight; high energy, smart, articulate, and engaging!

As you can imagine, these young people, closed up inside a house during a storm, were zooming around the house burning up energy. They were both wearing socks and they enjoyed sliding on the hardwood floors…until…Flannery, or Flan, the younger, took too quick a turn.

As seems to happen in moments like this time slowed down. I looked over just as Flan’s feet flew out from under her. She was too far away for me to reach out and grab her, and it seemed to take forever for her to hit, butt first, on the floor. 

In an instant after she hit the floor, though, her face went from stunned and surprised to…a big smile! She reached under a couch and said, “Lisey (her 18-month old cousin), I found your ball!!”

Instantly, she had turned what could have been a negative situation (she crashed and burned in front of her sister and a group of adults) into a wonderfully positive one. 

I immediately thought, if most adults could exhibit Flan’s coolness under pressure we’d all be in much better shape.

What kind of challenge are you running into now? What's the silver lining? Whose ball can you find under the couch?