leadership essays

div dir=”ltr” style=”text-align: left;” trbidi=”on”>I’ve been at a family reunion this week in the Poconos. My extended family is flung far and wide and we’re rarely in the same place at the same time. Which is why I was looking forward to this week so much.

Well, that and the really tasty food. And the downtime. And the lakefront. And sun and rest and boating and swimming.

OK. So maybe there were a lot of reasons.

One thing I hadn’t looked forward to (or even considered) was five straight days of rain. Torrential rain. Incessant rain. Unstopping rain. Until everyone and everyone was damp and moldy and never dry. It seems Hurricanes Katya and Lee collided on the heels of Irene and that all combined to create a hell of a lot of rain. Which lead to 15 people being housebound in a very small cabin with my cousin’s two (adorable and very high-energy) kids.

More importantly, it lead to severe flooding in the area. When I hear “flooding,” I think, “uh-oh,” followed by, “that’s terrible.”

It’s another thing however, to actually see it. To see people’s homes under water. To see roads that you drove on to get here (and that you’d like to be able to drive on to leave) underwater. Unusable. To see normally charming streams and rivers and our beloved lake swollen and muddy and angry. To see debris washed across roads, boats submerged and drowning, and all sorts of refuse in places it doesn’t belong.

We lost electricity and I felt my first flurry of panic–what would do for food once the refrigerator was no good? How would we cook (on our electric stove)? How would we manage without water (the water to the house is controlled by a pump powered by electricity). No toilet? No shower? No stove? No phone? No INTERNET???!!! What would we DO???

Then you see families staying in emergency shelters and you feel stupid for contemplating your comparatively lame concerns.

Honestly, the scariest element was the loss of control. There was absolutely nothing we could do to get electricity back on. To ensure that our cabin wasn’t swallowed by the lake. To make sure that we had water or light or food.

Which lead me to consider this: It seems that we modern day folks spend an awful lot of time feeling in control of our lives–or suffering anxiety due to a loss of control. Then nature comes along and smacks us down.

“You think YOU’RE in control?!” Booms an omniscient voice “THINK AGAIN!!!”

My cousin reminded me that we still had a gas grill outside. And suddenly a summer BBQ treat was a priceless necessity. My aunt reminded me that we could scoop buckets of water from the lake and manually “force flush” the toilets. We had candles and matches and our cabin wasn’t underwater. We would be OK. And we were.

But that feeling of loss of control, of loss of independence…the feeling of complete and utter helplessness…that will stay with me for awhile.

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