Finding Calm in the midst of Chaos

6 Dec

the sky is falliingWeather reports zealously predicted the emergence of a winter storm of near epic proportions.  As I listened, I was struck by the sound of rising alarm in the voices of meteorologists who paced like caged tigers, and I wondered again where the days of calm and objectivity had gone, seemingly having disappeared like two old friends descending the last mountain, looking back over their shoulders to companions left behind, giving a final thumbs up to them, as if nothing would ever change, as if time and the world would repeat itself as it always had when the sun rose each morning; but the world did change, and comfort once gained from soothing, consistent voices vanished in a populist culture of serial disasters, each horrible and mesmerizing; each uglier than its predecessor, yet understood to be just another wrung on an endless ladder of adrenaline-driven-drama yet to come.

Hoping for the best, planning for the worst, we drove to the market in preparation of the power outage that was sure to come.  How did we know the power would disappear?  Well, actually we received a text message from Entergy explaining that 8,000 workers were on their way to the area, and that outages were expected to last “5-7 days”.  It seemed more a promise than a possibility.

As we drove, we passed 3 or 4 gas stations, each with long, winding lines and a carbon monoxide fog hanging overhead like another warning, or perhaps, a final obituary.

Inside the store, signs of the new world shrank the warehouse sized building into the likes of a small parlor filled with warring tribes, each combatant wearing armor, his or her eyes straight ahead, and the cold dead stench of fear rising.

The bread aisle was empty.

The water aisle was empty.

no water

A half-gallon of milk cost $4.43.

I had a bag of tortillas in my hand until an old man shoved me and snatched it away; pushing his cart away as fast and hard as he could.  On any other day, perhaps he would have offered to reach it for me, taken it from the high shelf and put it in my hand, or maybe he might have smiled as we passed each other on Aisle 8.  But today he was not himself, or perhaps he had never been more himself until the very moment he stole a bag of tortillas from a stranger’s hand.

It caught me off-guard; for a moment, I needed to step away from the crowd, so I huddled next to an end-cap of nonessentials like cotton balls or hair color.  Narrowing my focus, I listened to the sounds emitted from the surging crowd.  Expecting growls of altercation, I was surprised to hear excitement, like a growing anticipation for an adventure yet defined.  At first I believed I was witnessing the emergence of community, a gathering of like-minded souls preparing to endure shared battle, but the longer I listened, I more clearly I began to understand, and I trembled with the knowledge that what I heard was more akin to observers at a public hanging, or a gathering of the pious howling in jubilation at the burning of a accused witch.

Rich and I left carrying nuts and fruit, a couple of bags of chips and 3 bottles of marinara.  We drove like lunatics away from the crowds, weaving through debris already strewn by the wind throughout back roads and city streets.

Once home, we dug through the Recycle Bin, dragging out empty plastic bottles that we washed with hot, soapy water.  After they’d dried, we filled them with fresh tap water.

We unpacked winter blankets.

We filled a basket with candles, matches, flashlights and batteries.

We ate peanut butter sandwiches and shared the last piece of pumpkin pie from the back of the refrigerator.  Then we snuggled under the knitted blanket I’d bought at an estate sale from two daughters who didn’t want it, who had valued it at $3.00, never understanding the emotion and time, the love and careful attention their mother had invested in it.

Then we turned on the outside Christmas lights, rolled up the blinds, settled in, held hands, and watched the snow begin to fall.

snow flakes

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10 Responses to “Finding Calm in the midst of Chaos”

  1. Claudia Anderson December 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Beautifully poignant…people can be frightening in the calmest sort of ways, can’t they? As if they didn’t have enough chips in the cupboard or bread in the freezer. I’m sure the thought of punching someone out for their gallon of orange juice crossed their minds. Now you know to always have peanut butter and crackers in the cupboard, soda in the pantry, and a bottle of wine to stick in the snow.

    • ittymac December 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

      We always have peanut butter, crackers and wine in the cabinet so we can survive nearly everything. It’s just odd to me how some people seem to enjoy impending disaster…I suppose it’s the adrenalin rush. My observations: the mob mentality is alive and well, and people are negatively affected by intentional fear mongering.

  2. billiebell1 December 9, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    We encountered similar hysteria in Texas with recent icy weather. I agree that it seems the media loves a good drama and does all they can to hype it up instead of simply providing the information and trying to calm down society at large. Great insight to an interesting sociological trend and human behavior.

    • ittymac December 9, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. The news/weather was presented quite differently before it was deemed ‘entertainment’. Sometimes I wonder where all the grown ups have gone…wherever they went they seem to have taken integrity and personal responsibility with them.

  3. Archita December 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Firstly I hope you’re doing well . This was such a well-thought piece of work on our behavior during media created illusions. I observe ,with the rise of technology and TV channels , human wisdom has shrunk..Some day , things will change , hopefully. 🙂 I am wishing you bright sunny days . 🙂 I love reading your beautiful posts. 🙂

    • ittymac December 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      Thank you for responding to my post, my friend. While in the hospital, I read only 4 blogs daily; yours, of course, was one of them. I did not respond to anyone, I could not; but I am healing well now and have begun to write again myself, and I so look forward to sharing my thoughts on your posts once again. A post you wrote stood out in my mind as I evaluated my life; it was about friendships you have formed as a result of blogging. It touched my heart. We will probably never meet in person, but I don’t feel the need to do that because I consider you a dear friend in my heart, and your words often shape my thoughts.

      Your energy and the way you express it, adds to the world in a positive way, and your hope for the future is writing a story I hope many others share until one day it materializes. I know I share you dreams for a better, more loving, thoughtful and inclusive world for all. Take care. In kindness, itty

  4. theempathyqueen December 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Poetry in your words and pleasure in your memories for those of us who have the privilege to read and share your writing.

    • ittymac December 9, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      You are so kind… thank you so very much for supporting my work. itty

  5. 2ndhalfolife December 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Yikes! I don’t get people these days!

    • ittymac December 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      I think collectively we’re getting harder “up get!”

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