Last Friday, when the summer sun had set and we had just returned home from a day out, a windstorm of twisting momentum crashed into our neighborhood. The Derecho was widespread over multiple states with little rain and maximum fury. Like a lot of others, we lost power.
Being the farm girl I am, I diligently lit candles and waited for the lights to come back on. That's what you do where I'm from. You play board games, fill tubs with water (just in case), and read by candlelight for two to three days. Since moving to the city, power normally is restored in a few hours.
The first few days passed without even a flicker of light, and the temperatures predicted to be near or over one hundred degrees kept their promises. With no air conditioning and no breezes, you can imagine the house heated effortlessly during the days to ninety degrees inside, and barely cooled off to eighty during the nights. The Hubs, our daughter Z, and I sweat along with the best of them. I washed clothes in the bathtub and hung them to dry each day, and we cooked food and made coffee over an open flame.
Day five brought with it an overheated car and then an abrupt complication which left us not only hot and sticky, stinky and hungry, but motionless. The idea of running out for a cool drink or going somewhere with working A/C was gone. With no power to recharge my computer and now no way to plug in somewhere else, what's a girl to do?
Well, as a writer, not editing/revising Burning Spirit or The Trusting was a strange feeling. I need the forward motion of work to keep me optimistic and thinking about my characters. When I'm knee deep in my work, there's no point in climbing out. That's how I like it. So, I sat down with a notebook and pen, and looked up agents the old fashioned way--in a book.
I skimmed every fantasy agent in the guide and jotted down their information, and then I ranked them based on my own interest or "chances" with them. Suddenly I didn't have to be wading through my story chapter by chapter to feel like I was still working with Elsbeth; I was working on the process which will eventually give her a voice. As hot and as bad as things were, I felt good again. Felt like me again.
At the end of day seven, the power kicked back on, A/C was cranked, and the fridge chugged along. The next day the Hubs' family came into town and fixed the car for under thirty bucks. Things were beyond looking up.
Soon after, we learned that the mother of a family friend passed away. She was Bill's wife for those that recall that brief post on his passing only three months ago. ...And reality blew back in the window and tossed everything into perspective. It could all be worse than sweating and taking cold, shallow baths. It could include sickness and pain. Rather than teaching my Z how to play Parcheesi and reading together while downing waters, she could have been holding my hand as I passed on.
To often we take for granted the important, and instead value the meaningless.
Not everything is as obvious as a windstorm or the long end of a short disease, but you must persevere. Push through. Know your priorities, keep your chin up, and remember that sometimes cleaning out your entire fridge to get rid of "that smell" isn't the worst that could happen.
Events in life are the cornerstones you build yourself on. Moments which shift your stance, or force you to right your steering, should be considered blessings even when painful, because a change in course can make all the difference. As the saying goes, "What doesn't kill you..."