What if storms like “Sandy” are designed to show us what is needed in our lives?

Hurricane Sandy

If there is an environmental macrocosm and microcosm directly related to mankind, every aspect of our lives inside and outside is a reflection of our internal structure.  This premise reflected the behaviors of many people before, during and after the upset from hurricane “Sandy”. The question, is there a great storm within us that shows when we face a physical storm?

I seem to remember a hurricane when I was in grade school almost 50 years ago.  I don’t remember its impact, but I remember seeing pictures of the devastation.  Each year in the recent past we have seen storms hit Florida and New Orleans, but bypassing the majority of our population.  “Sandy” turned directly to our major population areas blanketing all the major cities in the northeast, covering a domain 1000 miles wide. Power outages and destruction from fallen trees, high winds, high waters have presented an opportunity to evaluate who we are, what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Last year on the same day, the northeast was faced with a heavy rain and wind storm. I remember feeling vulnerable and anxious worrying about my home, my welfare, my real estate transactions in process, the dogs, the falling temperatures outside; worry, worry, worry. The storm came, the power went out, and I was in a panic about food in the refrigerator, the food in the freezer, the dogs being able to eat, and on…  My fears were driving me crazy!  I was not concerned before the storm, but I was afterwards as I had little experience with major rain and wind storms.  Once the storm hit, I was braving the cold and enjoying sleepless nights worrying about this and that!!  I was consumed with where I could store the food in my freezer.  My, how my perspective was out of balance! The storm within me was not only brewing, it was continuing into grand intensity!

Afterwards I realized that not only had I lost perspective, but my worry had denied me choices which were quite available.  I never thought to get a hotel room, or move to one of my siblings’ homes, or have a plan of what to do next. At the time, I had closed out the world of opportunity!  I was better prepared for Hurricane Sandy…

First, I did a reality check. I prepared for the storm, making sure I had flashlights, water, ice in the freezer, etc.  After all, a major storm is not the end of the world!  When the power shut off at 9:45PM my comment was, “Well, this is as good a time as any to go to bed.”  The storm did not bother me other than a few large bangs on the outside walls which I attributed to branches falling. The next morning my day began much like always.  Get up, take the dogs out, feed them…

My attitude was calm, flexible, focused and I knew I was willing to work with any changes at a moments notice.  Everything was in place to stay at home without power until it was restored. I knew ultimately the power would return and life would return to normal.  After a while I moved out of my home and over to my Mother’s to enjoy warmth of heart and stomach.  Each day I checked on my home and found everything was fine.  From my Mother’s home, I created a temporary home and office.

After a day I became more focused on returning to a normal day-to-day life. On the first day I tried to move into a routine of sorts.  This routine looked like a normal day except for my desire to pay my AMEX bill on time!  What amazed me was that by trying to normalize my day I focused on something which was time sensitive.  I quickly learned that the bank which I needed to call was not open and AMEX was closed as the payment center was in Newark.  Once I realized how my action was controlling my focus, I quickly surrendered and relaxed again!  The bank opened the next morning and the check was sent the next day.

This experience helped me begin to realize what in my daily life was really important.  I realized that the turbulence of the storm had brought me back to reality about my own needs.  The storm had not tethered me with high anxiety, a feeling of helplessness or limited my options.  I was not caught off guard because I was aware of the potential storm, thus I had time to prepare and control my home.

When I realized I no longer wanted to feel the discomfort of my unheated home, I took another action and relocated. I packed my car and even included an air mattress so I had a bed in case there was not room.  I landed at my Mother’s home which was welcoming and warm.

The storm created a process within me and when I reflected on my experience I realized that working with any situation involves perspective, appreciation and adaptation.  My perspective: the situation may have been inconvenient and even uncomfortable, but adapting was easy.  My life was easy by comparison, as those who lost their primary residence or who were stranded inside their home were much worse off.

I also realized there was a feeling of calm and clarity as I took action.  Preparation for the storm caused me to be deliberate and think carefully about my tasks. My actions organized my home and gave me the opportunity to explore alternatives in case the power went off or damage occurred to my home. This storm had grounded me in reality.

I was able to navigate through my life with minor inconveniences. 

It was only interrupted when I realized I had not paid my AMEX bill!  God forbid I should be late in mailing my payment. The joke came later when I discovered both my bank and the AMEX processing were down because of the damage that occurred from the storm!

As I intentionally focused on what I needed to do, the storm inside of me was calmer than in the past.  I was able to get basic tasks done and relax when something could not be completed. I realized being prepared, accepting a changing situation and working within what could be done allowed me to work with what was in my control and what was not. If it was not in my control, I relaxed.

The macrocosm was the storm and how it affected others; the microcosm was the storm within me that set me straight on how I was going to work with my life rather than fear the forces of nature.

by Leon Sickles


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