As I sit today and reflect on what has been going on for the last 5 or 6 days in the Middle Tennessee area, my thoughts wander. I cannot really get motivated to discuss weddings, invitations, and cute ideas for using the latest color scheme at your event.
On the one hand, the devastation of the recent floods is overwhelming. We suffered damage to our property but thankfully our house and our lives were spared. I ache for those not so fortunate who have lost their homes and belongings and even more for those who lost their lives so suddenly and unexpectedly. The rain was fierce when it started on Saturday. I left home around 7:30 am for a wedding that day and something about the ferocity and rate of the rainfall made me very nervous. As is typical in Tennessee, my primary concern was a tornado...I never could have, in my wildest imagination, had an inkling of what was to come. By Sunday evening, we had received 20 inches of rain at our house in rural Santa Fe, Tennessee. I couldn't get back in until Monday and even then the journey was a precarious one. Our little farm is a mess and we will no doubt be cleaning up and paying for the damage for months to come, but we are some of the lucky ones. Our home is still standing, our family intact.
In contemplating the events of the past few days, I feel very small in the grand scheme of things. I guess Mother Nature has a way of showing you how fragile life is. The media can also make you realize how insignificant our little city of Nashville (and its outlying areas) is when considered on a worldwide scale. At least initially our 500 year flood, which for many will be the biggest story of their lifetime, was overshadowed by more significant news stories in the rest of the world. When I review the destruction that can be thrown upon us in a matter of a day or two, it can be disheartening and quite honestly, frightening. But no sooner than you start to feel sorry for this town, this place, you hear of a story of a miraculous rescue or an unselfish act of heroism.
I have friends and even family that reside all over the world. I will admit now that there have been times when I wished that I lived somewhere more glamorous than Music City, USA. I was not born in Tennessee but have lived here since I was very young so Nashville is truly my home. There were times when Nashville's "simple country folk" stigma has followed me in my travels to other places around the world and I am sad to say that I have been almost ashamed of other people's thoughts, in my travels, on where I live. The people of Tennessee that I know are simple, but in a good way that others not native to this area may not always understand and sometimes mock. We may value time with family and friends over fancy cars or designer clothes, we may rather spend our evenings on a porch swing than to go out to a snooty restaurant for a fancy meal, and when our neighbor needs help, we would rather reach out to them than to turn our backs. If that is simple, I am happy to trade a big city, glamorous life for a simple, country one.
Today I am proud to be living in Tennessee. They say that stress and tragedy reveal the true nature of people. In the midst of the drama of the last week, seldom have there been news stories about looting, stealing, or corrupt people preying on those who were affected by the flooding, although I am not so naive as to believe those may not come. The stories I have heard have been stories of bravery, heroism, and unspeakable courage. Even people who themselves have suffered losses have turned to their fellow citizen to find out how they can help someone worse off than them. The volunteer spirit is alive and well in Tennessee and I am proud of the way we have banded together and responded to this crisis.
We get so busy in our day to day lives that sometimes we muddle through without really paying any attention to the person next to us at the traffic light or behind us at the grocery store. While it is sad to me that it seems to take a tragedy of epic proportions to cause us pause, I am proud of the reaction of my fellow Tennesseeans. I am uplifted by the generosity and kindness that people seem to be showing one another and while I am happy to see the flood waters receding, this renewed compassion for our fellow citizen is one side effect of the Great Flood of 2010 that I hope lingers.
Sites to check out...
By Heart and Hand on Facebook