Less than a month ago, my neighborhood, along with many others here in Nashville, was hit by a tornado. the wind that night sounded like the freight train i live next to was headed towards my house. it was terrifying. i could hear the trees falling as it happened. the lights flickered above me as the house shook. i was sure all of the windows were blown through and shattered. Just before it hit, the sky had a dark orange and purple hue, similar to tonight's. I looked up through my living room window earlier and felt terrified all over again but this time, knowing how just how devastating it could be.
two metal phone towers blew over and were laying in the street, crushed like soda cans, hanging off them lied our power lines. the fence separating my house from my neighbors was gone. the large tree in my front yard was ripped out of the ground along with a patch of grass and landed right on my front door and a little bit of my roof.
when it finally passed, i felt devastated. i had no idea if anyone was hurt, if my car outside was okay, or if my house lost parts of it’s roof.
fortunately, there was minimal damage to my house compared to the rest of my neighborhood and a lot of other areas but even still, the aftermath was devastating. Outside my bedroom window, blue and white lights beamed through my blinds until 4am. i don’t think i slept at all.
i don’t think i slept at all that night yet somehow, i was totally awake the next day. i went to every class, too. yet not one of the professors i had the next day said anything about what happened the night before. and frankly, i wasn’t sure if that was appropriate for them to do or not. i figured it was at their discretion. so, i walked around feeling heart broken like i couldn’t talk to anyone. my school wasn’t hit at all or the area that it is in. so most students were not affected. i felt pretty alone, and shaken up.
the next day, my roommate and i walked around the neighborhood which looked like a war zone. many of us had our garbages lined up at the end of our drive way in preparation for garbage day. there was garbage everywhere, hanging in trees, swaying on telephone wires. there were pieces of houses, clothes, and gutters bent in half swaying in the wind too.
the houses behind me appeared like two story victorian doll houses, exposed enough to see in every room. i saw a family standing outside of one of the houses next to a police man, staring at it like “what are we going to do.” everyone in the was in shock that our neighborhood was ripped apart and lying in the streets, stuck between branches in tall trees, and under our feet.
the next few weeks were just uncertain and that was certain.
a couple of weeks later, here i am, again, sitting in what seems to be the safest part of my house. hoping and praying, no one will be hurt again. no one will have to lose their house, their job, or their place of business. thinking about it makes me feel sick to my stomach with sadness.
when i saw bright flashes of light and a warm orange sky tonight, i just couldn’t help but feel that way. i’m sure being in quarantine for this virus the past two weeks doesn’t exactly help too much with my mental capabilities to handle another tornado or even the possibility one hitting us again. but i just feel like there’s so much going on in the world right now that feels uncertain, is leaving people hurting, and feeling afraid and out of control.
there are people trying their absolute hardest to stay safe, clean, and quarantined and there are also people who don’t seem to mind that thousands of people are dying from this incredibly contagious virus.
life is a gift and if there’s anything i’ve realized from all of this is that we need to treat it as such.
we need to treat it with respect by taking care of our bodies, respecting ourselves, friends, family and others.
life is a gift wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper tied with the most incredible sparking bow and yet we just toss it in the closet sometimes for it to get banged up, we rip off the bow and try to tie it back on the same way, but we can’t. we can only repair it if we respect it.
so why not take this time and appreciate it? clean it off, sit it down, admire it’s beauty. admire the gift and the neatly wrapped beautiful package it came in with a life time of surprises and ups and downs inside of it.
if we knew what was coming all the time, life wouldn’t be a gift, it would be a crystal ball. and that’s just it: we don’t have a crystal ball. we have prayer and we have the moment we are in right now. we can make plans, have aspirations and dreams, but all we really know and all we really have and know to be true, is this moment we are in, this moment right here, right now.
so what are you going to do with your gift? are you going to live in fear of another tornado uprooting your neighborhood and scaring the life out of you? (me, and working on it) are you going to toss your precious life in the back of a closet to get bruised and bumped in back by the shoes you don’t wear anymore and whatever else you throw on top of it?
or are you gonna take it out, clean it up, and appreciate that all you know is that whatever is inside of that box is none of your business, but it is yours. and whatever and however you choose to treat it, will determine what’s inside, for the rest of your life.