224: Ep 224: Find What You Need and Write What You Can

Writing224: Ep 224: Find What You Need and Write What You Can

224: Ep 224: Find What You Need and Write What You Can

[Ep 224]

At the close of a brilliant blue-sky summer-warm April afternoon, a heavy thunderstorm swept across my state, pelting us with hail and hurtling branches across yards.

We stared in awe at Zeus-explosive lightning strikes that flashed and boomed, backlighting trees that swayed like storm-tossed ship masts, nearly snapping.

After a series of mighty cracks, the power went out and stayed out for eight hours. Cell service, too.

During the strangest season of a lifetime, when staying informed and connected relies on a functioning Internet, we were completely cut off from the world for…we didn’t know how long.

The storm felt even more ominous in total darkness. Wind gusts smacked limbs against the roof in haunting thumps and scrapes, like zombies clawing the shingles. We lit candles and sat in our family room, hoping the sliding glass door wouldn’t blow in and spew shards of glass across the room.

We settled in but couldn’t rest. On high alert, we remained poised to head to the basement if we heard tornado sirens go off. My husband grabbed a headlamp he uses when camping and handed it to my son, who needed to finish studying for a pre-calc test.

I remembered some blizzards of my youth, when the power would go out on the farm for a few days—once for an entire week—and we’d use kerosene lamps for light and the wood stove for heat.

I’d feel a sense of awe and fear and excitement that, for a stretch of time—and who knew for how long—life suspended in an awkward space of uncertainty where we were forced to rethink the days and invent solutions to complete basic tasks.

Eventually the power would return to the farm. We’d flip on lights and the TV. Country roads would be cleared and the school bus would show up at my driveway.

Back to normal.

I thought of that blizzard while staring out our sliding glass door.

After about an hour, the fiercest elements of the storm subsided, though rain continued to pour down, overflowing gutters clogged by debris. In the quiet, dark house, we felt our way along the walls to our bedrooms, listening for each other’s voices. My husband set an alarm to wake up every few hours throughout the night to empty the brim-full sump pump, which wasn’t able to do its job without electricity.

Early the next morning, our power returned. We flipped on lights and reset our clocks and the WiFi router. The sump pump turned on and emptied the tanks.

Back to normal.

Except…it’s not normal.

This isn’t a blizzard, and the bus didn’t show up for students in our neighborhood. My son took his pre-calc test at the kitchen table and uploaded it to a website for his math instructor to grade.

Back to our abnormal normal, I guess, or whatever we’ve created within this shelter-at-home pandemic reality, its own silent storm.

I started six or seven different ideas for this post, but they all fell flat; they seemed inappropriate in one way or another.

Hopeful, encouraging input seemed like it would make light of readers who are fearful or frustrated. So I held off, wanting to respect that not everyone is ready to map out a social media strategy or draft a short story.

Fun ideas celebrating the creativity of quarantined humans across the planet seemed to make light of the intensity and suffering so many are facing. I had collected links to amusing and ambitious projects but stopped, unable to share. I knew friends who were sick or caring for the sick, and it seemed tone deaf to send that out.

But the other extreme also seemed like a strange choice; highlighting suffering seemed too heavy and melancholy for readers who might be seeking an emotional escape. Sometimes I want to just laugh a little; sometimes I want to avoid the weight of the news.

Suggestions for being productive? That felt, I don’t know…exhausting…too hard to attempt or sustain. I watch all these people hopping on Instagram Live offering their recommendations to be a voice of leadership duri…

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