Tragedies can change a person. Sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst. This May I heard more tornado sirens being sounded that at any other time in my life. I live in Norman, OK just nine miles from Moore and seventeen miles from Oklahoma City. There were horrible and heart-breaking deaths reported and very serious damage to property. One day as I drove to the City I went right by the damage of the F5 tornado that crossed Interstate 35 in Moore. There was no damage to the interstate but it backed up and crawled for miles.
I lived in Edmond in the 1980’s which was also struck by a tornado in May 2013. I was taken back to the days where Oklahomans would come to a stop if there was anything on the roadside worthy of viewing and gossip. It was the first clue that reality TV was going to be big. Gawking, this is possibly the worst trait of humanity. This morbid need to see destruction, instead of moving on and getting on with life. You’ve seen it on the news, please move on. Precious seconds of your life have been lost and can never be regained. Worse than gawkers are the scam artists and looters, and we have had our share of each.
One truly uplifting moment came to my vision was the sense of humor of a Moore homeowner. Here a home barely stood and plywood covered a place where a sliding glass door stood and on the plywood the following was written,
“For Sale – New home soon to be 4 bedroom.”
This person and I could be great friends. Life will present tragedies, but as long as we have our lives (truly the greatest possession) we can rebuild and move on.
As a father and now grandfather, my heart hurt to read of a young mother who died with her infant while being trapped in her car as another F5 plowed through Yukon along Interstate 40. That day a series of supercell storms merged to form one very large storm which spawned several tornadoes, one which veered from an easterly direction and headed due south to my community. A tornado emergency had been declared with the same warning as on May 20, “Get underground or you may die.” This warning sent many Oklahomans on a southward trek on I-35, congesting it to the point of a standstill and a death trap. Me, my wife and daughter prepared for the worse. I advised them that since I was the oldest I would use my body to shield them if it came to that point. Although I would love to live longer and experience more, I have lived a blessed life, one in which my family and home have been spared.
Normally this monthly post is about humor, but this time it is truly about an apocalypse. Oklahoma just recently was named the number one state for Tornadoes. We’d rather be known as number one in college football or an NBA championship. Rarely do we human beings get a chance to reflect on life itself. Most of the times we go through life in robotic fashion, taking life itself for granted. There are those that will devastated for the remainder of their lives by this May. Some may become bitter and denounce a god they once believed in. Others may give thanks for being spared, or fall to grief wondering why they survived. Chances are we will forget and become complacent yet again. We will talk of the need for storm shelters, but letting go of money will cloud our decisions.
I took only one thing from the storms. The very essence of living. That at any moment our time may end. We may see it coming and flashback to all the time we wasted. For me, this has reinvigorated the need to get busy living and not waste my time working for the attainment of more physical possessions, but for the enjoyment of what I have. My hope is that you will also find the time each day to set aside all that ails your mind in this modern techno politically driven world. I am very lucky to have known a much simpler time, and soon I will return to that simple living, for the future is not an abstract idea as it is was our youth. Time is rolling faster now and the greatest apocalypse of all is the vanity to believe we have unlimited time. So I shall live each day with a urgent need to live it, because too many came so very close to losing it, and I could have been one of them.
“Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying.”