Day 2: The Morning Before Hurricane Irma

A symphony of snores surround me as I realize I’m still hugging onto something – but it’s not my wife, Carly. It’s my backpack, silly!

My brain’s foggy, but I now know where I am. Chatter begins shortly thereafter as people begin to queue up for whatever school dinner gruel awaits them. It’s 6:31 now.

Not much of a morning person, I lie there aching from the minimal padding a comforter and blanket provides to the hip bone. Overhead fluorescent lights, previously reduced to only the outskirts of the cafeteria (where our bed is), suddenly all light up. I suppose I’m getting up.

We make our own breakfast. So long as our own supplies last.

As the morning SLOWLY progresses, I discover two things:

1. People are very committed to their morning coffee (people queued for at least an hour)

2. They’ve built a village here

A village? Yes, in 24 hours. There’s community, sleeping arrangements (let’s say), live music (thank you latinos), food, water and order (police).

But, the cracks this morning are very slightly beginning to show:

  • We’ve reached somewhere in the range of 1400-1500 people in this elementary school and the room for comfort has certainly decreased for newcomers. People now line the walls of corridors.
  • Water supply seems to be a slight concern after I read between the lines when talking to someone from the Red Cross. They’re rationing a bit, but most people have their own supply at least for another day or two.
  • There’s rumors of several people believed to be on Meth (I had my suspicions – but the police are dealing with that apparently)

I don’t suspect things to get out of control though. Red Cross, Police and Military all have their presence here. And people are acting far more kindly to each other than you’d typically see.

In fact, it reminds me an awful lot of what I heard the journalist, Sebastian Junger talk about recently:

We’re designed to live in tight-knit communities (typically small, but not secluded). We want to belong to a group — to be a part of something. Something he realized when returning back to civilian society after covering the war in Iraq.

Junger found that catastrophic events like the Blitz, 9/11, and natural disasters often bring people together. During these times, you often see far less crime and suicide.

The more I ponder these types of things, the more I question how compatible we are with today’s society. We’re removing hardship, danger and struggle. So many of us avoid this, padding ourselves from the intersection of new experiences, challenges, and meaning. Instead, we bathe in comfort – a state that is often our demise.

We need struggle. Both physically and emotionally. It propels us forward to learn from mistakes, band together and innovate. Without it, we atrophy. And if we don’t get a daily dose of this through our work, physical workouts, travel, etc – then we certainly get a massive dose of it during horrific events.

Meanwhile, in the here and now, Irma’s weather pattern is beginning to present itself here. Rain and wind is picking up. The next time you hear from me, I suspect I’ll have a lot more to actually share on the weather.

At the moment people are just passing time whether that be on their phones, keeping their newborns happy, singing or sitting in groups and chatting.

More to follow…

Much love,
Alex

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