Monday, July 20, 2009

We Got Soaked Together, Or The Unifying Power of Adversity

I know, I know -- the title of this post is a mess, but I just couldn't come up with anything else . . . First -- let me give thanks for the grateful and sympathetic words that my last "Thing I'm thankful for" elicited. I realize now that the allusion to my near car accident could have been a little terrifying. I assure everyone that Carrie, Nikki, Andrea, and I are all safe and sound. The mishap had something to do with a combination of speed, water on the road, and the angle of the exit ramp . . . At any rate, the car is okay, and we're all okay. Those metal guard posts are strong little suckers.

And now for my serious post on an experience in Nashville:

On Independence Day, we walked through downtown Nashville, headed for the river bank, where the city displayed its fireworks. We were late, though; the fireworks had already started. So we watched from the street. I think I said it before, but I'll say it again: Those fireworks were spectacular. So spectacular, in fact, that when it started sprinkling, no one moved. I don't think anyone anticipated that the rain was soon going to pour, so when it did, there was really nothing to be done except continue to watch the show. The oddest thing happened, though: When the rain splattered on our upturned faces, the crowd started clapping and cheering. Later, when the rain really started coming down, we tried to take shelter near some sidewalk shops. I had a short, but friendly conversation with a woman standing next to me. When the grand finale boomed to a close, I quickly walked alongside Carrie and hundreds of other people through ankle-high puddles. I laughed with a few people on the way. In the hotel, I made the trek up 13 flights of stairs because the elevators were slow, and most of the lodgers were, like me, coming in from the rain, eager to go to their rooms and change into warm, dry clothes. On the 13th floor, when I could go no farther, I ditched Nikki and joined a fellow out-of-shape person to look for the nearest (hopefully less-crowded) elevator.

So what's the point of my story? That although I knew that trials make you stronger and hardships bring people together, I didn't really know it. Sure, it was a fireworks show, and all we got was wet, but for whatever reason, I understood the unifying power of adversity in those moments of pouring rainfall. I could endure the cool rain and mascara in my eyes, if other people could. I could laugh with my neighbor who was laughing at me, and we could both laugh at our pitiful situation.

Later that night, when my girlfriends lay asleep and I wandered the hotel lobby alone, I thought about other times when I felt closest to others. I felt close to my siblings when we moved to Georgia. For a while, I hated Georgia and the people in it, and I had no friends. Apparently, my siblings didn't have any or many friends, either, because we all hung out together. On school nights, I can remember watching "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown" with them.

When my heart was first broken, a friend helped me through it, and we bonded over our high school angst. It seems silly now, but our friendship has never been as strong since, and I know we needed each other during that time.

Now I'm single and sometimes lonely. The economy stinks, and people are losing their jobs and homes. There are people who don't eat and people who don't ever have cover from the rain. But I am grateful for the unity that comes from our wretched circumstances. I'm amazed that somehow it works -- that trials and loneliness and hunger and sadness bring people together.

In a Christian sense, such times of difficulty are times when people are supposed to call on God. I believe that's true, and I believe it helps. Yet I think an even greater power that sustains us through difficulties is the close friendship of others or help from a stranger. I don't quite know how it helps exactly, but I know it does. And I'm thankful for that.

Other thing I'm thankful for: wonderfully cool-ish weather in July. Sometimes Georgia is a good place to be. :)


Blogger Saule Cogneur said...

"Wreteched?" I kind of hope not. I do understand what you're getting at however.

Trials give people a sense of unity. I think they also put the world in perspective and help people to see past the petty things that irritate them.

Trials don't have to end well, but it's really nice when they have happy endings.... hypothetically.

9:25 AM  
Blogger nikki said...

A few things:

1) It's cute that you're hugging your purse.

2) You only had five flights of stairs left -- you could have done it! I can't believe you left me, after all we had just been through together. Going up stairs is fun!

3) I liked this post.

9:36 AM  
Blogger cardlady said...

Nice Post. And yes, thanks for the info about the near wreck. Love YOU MOM

11:29 PM  
Blogger Lexia said...

I know why you're hugging your purse...


I love your writing. I love your thoughts. I just love you.

9:08 PM  
Blogger jet said...

Nice post and a great story. I've also decided that everything seems better on the 4th when we remember what everyone else has done for us!

And 13 flights of stairs - you're a trooper!

5:17 PM  

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