Let It Go: A Lesson Blown in on a Hurricane.

Just when you think you’ve got the hang of this pandemic, your little world turns around and gives you a kick in the pants.

As I write this week’s blog, I am lulled by the soothing and melodious sounds of a petrol-driven generator. Imagine someone feeding a running rock-washer through a wood chipper as an Airbus A380 lands alongside. The only reason I am not scratching this out on parchment with a feather quill is due to the general all-around brilliance of my husband. 

On Tuesday, about 2pm, my town—and apparently my entire county—was side-swiped by Hurricane Isaias. By 3pm, our power went down, and our already shrunken worlds contracted a bit more. The internet connectivity that has kept us going quietly folded its tent and crept away to another part of the country. All you could hear was the dribble of batteries running down. 

Having finally adapted to a Covid-constrained life, we suddenly found that the few things we did have were no longer there. People pulled themselves away from blank, black screens and stumbled outdoors to gaze at the destruction. I can’t speak for much outside my area, but thankfully, here—unlike other parts of the East Coast—we were spared the worst of it.

Soon, the eerie silence was broken by a thousand sirens as first responders, police, DPW, and fire engines poured onto the streets. Homeowners whose hands had spent months curled over a keyboard or wrapped around a remote control slowly unfurled their fingers to drag branches, garbage cans, lawn furniture, and small cars off their lawns and sidewalks. 

Lessons flow into our lives in a steady stream. Some arrive on tippy toes and whisper that maybe we are ready for a small change, while others storm in and hit us on the head with a mallet. The hurricane arrived with a mallet—a very big mallet—and the lesson was instantaneous; let it go.

As the sun slowly set, candlelight and lantern light glowed on front porches and behind windows. Laptops, cellphones, and televisions lay idle happy for a break after six months of near-constant use. Dinner was made—thank heavens for gas stoves—and savored; what else was there to do. Many more people took postprandial walks, their pace languid. Knots of neighbors lingered to discuss the damage, but eventually, people sauntered home, possibly to a good book or an early night.

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, I ran through lists of what I needed to do this week and how it would all get done if the power was out for days. But, by the time I awoke, I had abandoned this train of thought and decided to take another approach; whatever I did the next day, it had to be enough. No more, no less, just enough.

We spend so much timing driving ourselves to be productive. We love our to-do lists, our action-plans, our goal setting, and our general busyness. Heaven knows I am the champion cheerleader of this movement! But, occasionally, we need to step back and just let it go. 

Without power, I had permission to ignore the voice bleating on about what I could be doing, what I should be doing. If my work didn’t happen this week, then so be it. I would still get to where I needed to be, just not on my timeline.

Wednesday was my let-it-go day. Instead of leaping onto my elliptical or treadmill (oh right, no power), I took long walks through the town. I read and read and read. I lingered over meal prep and slowly drank countless cups of tea. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.

It felt strange to get into bed each night, and not check off all the things I had done that day, but I took a deep breath and drifted off. There would be other days to jump back into the fray. Given the circumstances, I was doing the best I could do, and it had to be enough.

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