Naming Emotions, Hurricane Edition.
I’m afraid. I talked about it last night during my men’s meeting. Hurricane Joaquin, now a major hurricane and strengthening, embarks on a northward journey tonight, and will likely power into the east coast sometime over the weekend. ECC is one of the cities that has a chance to be in the direct path of the storm. That’s the part I can do nothing about. The storm is the storm. ECC lies in its potential path. My fretting will change neither.
I worry about my house. It isn’t well built. It has a tendency to get water in the basement during exceptional rain events. I don’t know how it will stand up to a direct hit from a major hurricane. These are things I can’t know. I do know that it survived the last couple to come through, though none of those powered directly into the city, to my knowledge.
I get to be afraid. I’ve never been in a hurricane. Hurricanes kill people and ruin stuff. Basically, if nature had a military, hurricanes would be the Marines. I am frankly not up to repelling a Marine expeditionary force.
But I don’t want to be a coward. My friend @labroides weathered Sandy, being in the Bronx at the time. I remember thinking at the time that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him on the news being interviewed for going out in the middle of the storm to rescue a retirement home. I tweeted such at him, and he just said, “Hey, we get through this together or not at all.” He meant it.
I’d like access to that sort of bedrock courage. Just do what you have to do because it’s the right thing to do and you’re the person in the situation to do it. Circumstances meet willingness meets ability. I hope that if the hurricane hits my city, I’ll be able to summon that. I don’t know. We never know what we can really do until we have to do something that takes everything we have.
When AA was young, and no one had much more than about five years of sobriety, there was suddenly a war. The greatest war in the history of humanity. Sober members of AA, like men everywhere in America, were drafted to fight. I’ve read accounts from the time – just anecdotes – in which both recovered drunks and their physicians wondered how these sober alcoholics could perform in war. Alcoholism was still primarily seen as a moral failing, weakness of character. Would these men be cowards in combat?
The results seemed to be that we alcoholics are about as suited to war as normal folks. We’re not especially cowardly or weak-willed in the face of extraordinary challenges to our fortitude. We seem to be able to manage the stresses of combat when called to that purpose. And if those drunks could do that, well, maybe I can weather a big storm without embarrassing myself or my family or my community.