Monday, May 9, 2011

Raging Mississippi River: transforming the lives of the living and consoling the bereaved?

Keywords or Terms: Mississippi Floods; Life and Living; Deaths and Bereavement; Starting Over; Vacations; Passion for Life; John Mansfield; Henri Bergson

One of my children once asked me why people die young. I replied: the good ones among them never die; they just move to another stage where the audience is more appreciative and the melodious music they are playing, more appealing. Grief and losses come in different forms and often, set the stage for other challenges and triumphs. Watching people loose all they have in life from the floods in Tennessee and Mississippi, make you appreciate some little pleasures of life; and, imagine what a sad time those who are in the midst of the current floods are going through.

Watching family members tell you, they not only lost their homes to the floods, they also lost one of their children, brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles, make you somewhat loss for words; occasionally disoriented, confused and a little dumb founded, to an extent that you find yourself imagining where to begin in consoling them. These are trying times for the bereaved and difficult one for those who have lost everything they have in life to the floods; and probably a sad moment for anyone receiving the news. The news are sometimes so heart rendering, that you want to go to bed and imagine it was a dream and it will all come to pass. However, these are real stories, real life experiences that are hardly forgotten by the affected.

The comfortless news from the flood plains of Mississippi combined with personal stories of the havoc which the turbulent and raging Mississippi River had wroth on the lives of people, are making me blog tonight about transforming lives and consoling the bereaved. Families often find it difficult to determine where to begin after a disaster; however, there is that inner strength that most do not know exists within them, from which they can draw energy and courage to begin all over again. There was the story of a seventy year old woman who lost her husband last year and lost her house to the floods in the Mississippi tributary. As the daughter told the story to NPR, she wondered where her mother is going to begin from. Without flood insurance and probably, with only a Social Security check to depend on, her daughter probably felt all is by now over for her mother. While the story sound pitiful as the lady replied to NPR that her mother hasn’t flood insurance, I took a deep breath, called on the wisdom from my grandma’s apron: when life gives you lemon, make lemonade out of it. When the door shuts somewhere, another widow of opportunity is opened to you elsewhere; you just need to find it. If you are bereaved tonight, or if you have lost properties to the Mississippi river floods, never give up, because this is an opportunity to make the best out of a bad situation.

In the confusion of losses is the providence of redemption. Fragmented lives get rebuilt with vengeance when the bereaved can summon courage, to chart a new beginning without fear or self-pity. Imagine that you just moved to a new planet and you are beginning to establish yourself in the new environment. Imagine what it was like when you just moved away from your parent’s home, without anything but a college or high school diploma to your name. The only difference now is that you have done it before, you have better experience with starting over, but age is probably not on your side. Like the old lady once said, age is but a number. Now, go show the world you are not a push over. Show them that you are made of the best of characters and you can remake and rebuild your life over and over again, if need be. That is the stuff real men and women are made of. The will to fight on against all odds; the drive to keep on giving when it seems there is none; and the boldness to confront the challenges of living and triumph, set you apart from the flock. Like my buddies once said: what don’t kill you just makes you stronger! Whoo! Whoo!!, Go Get them!!!

The great sage Menander, Dis Exapaton said: Whom the gods love dies young. The unexpected deaths of friends, families and that which slays even more, make all weep. It isn’t the fact that our loved ones died that hurts so bad, it is the fact that death took them when they still had the strength, senses and their wits. Death often takes the loveliest of the lovely among us and sometimes challenges the heart to despair. How I wish life could go on for ever, but frankly, the great designer never meant it that way; and, maybe why my rhetoric that the good people never die, they just move to another stage, with bigger audience, better appreciations and more melodious music, is indeed adequate at this time to those who have been bereaved from the Mississippi floods.

If the Mississippi flood teaches us anything, it is the fact that life is very temporal; and it may not be bought with heaps of gold. John Mansfield in the ‘Widow in the Bye Street’ reminds us that life is a long headache in a noisy street. In the midst of the tumultuous disaster from the flood, affected people and their families must take consolation in the fact, we own nothing and those that we lost, were actually on loan to us and we probably forgot, out of having too much of a good time with them! Like in the floods of the Mississippi river, Henri Bergson in his book, Newton, My idea of God, summarizes: “Life appears as a wave which rises, and which is opposed by descending movement of matter. At one point alone, it passes freely, dragging with it obstacles which will weigh on its progress but will not stop. At this point is humanity.” When you watched the floods subsume your homes and cars, you probably felt all was lost, but imagine, you have one up that floods: You are still here!

It is difficult that your loved ones or neighbors did not make it through the floods. It is probably also difficult to imagine that you are sharing a bedroom with a stranger in a shelter and have no home to go to. Now, consider this time as a vacation in Europe, right in the Tirol Alps, Austria, and you are in a bed and breakfast home of two old and loving couples. Now, think about the warmth and love those memories can bring. That is similar to what is going on right now. You’ll soon get to go home after the long vacation and you get to re-energize yourself to begin all over again. Don’t’ forget the old saying: the gypsies are often more appealing to us than the apostles!

Set your expectations high for a new beginning. This time around, you are going to do things a little bit differently. When you enter your new life, you’ll move the sofa close to the fire place and the bed away from the vent. You are going to paint the home or apartment a bright and beautiful color. You’ll acquire less junk and you’ll not need that storage space you pay the monthly rental of sixty dollars to stuff your excess junk! You see the bright side? Yes, that’s what we are talking about, any disappointment opens up another opportunity to be and do your best. That flood from the raging Mississippi has just opened up another way to live your life to the fullest, without acquiring too much junk! Be passionate in the forthcoming arrangement and always look at the bright side of things; or, look the glass of water, half full, not half empty. Do not sweat the small stuff, do not attempt to live up to other people’s expectations, this is your new life and a second coming, enjoy the ride to the fullest. Goodnight and God Bless You.

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