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What? The Size of France? Irma Comes to Visit

posted in: On My Mind | 7
Irama, the monster storm over Florida
Hurricane Irma, category 5

What do you say when a hurricane the likes of which no man has seen before is headed to your state? Uh. Sh*t. Well … I write to figure things out, to find meaning, to make meaning, and, among other things, to sort out my experience of being a human being on this planet. Preparing for a hurricane, at the moment, is, for obvious reasons, all I can think to write about. We live in Central Florida. Irma’s “first effects will be felt later today.” It’s September 9, 2017. We’re among many who endured the 2004 hurricane season that whopped this state and devastated our tree-lined town three times in a row. For months afterwards I cried over losses—trees, roofs, and most of all, lives.

Today, I could tell you about “how we’ve been preparing for the coming disaster” i.e. stocking up on bottled water, snacks, and soup. I could tell you how every big and little potted plant, lawn chair, and trash can in our yard has been either dragged inside or stashed in the shed. I could tell you how panic rises in my gut when I see the shifting spaghetti string hurricane path predictions on T.V. But spare me that. Spare you that.

Irma. What matters?

I have a book titled MFA in a Box: A Why to Write Book by John Rember. He could have subtitled it A Why to Live Book. One of his rules for writers is: “If an image that moves you doesn’t also frighten you, you’re not looking at it as closely as you should” (pg. 160). What’s my image? A mammoth, swirling, spinning, sprawling, outrageously destructive hurricane that keeps morphing and moving and changing direction without much warning. I reverse Rember’s rule. If an image that frightens me (understatement of the century) doesn’t also move me, I’m not looking at it as closely as I should. Really? How close must I get? I ask, “How does this image move me besides into the bathtub filled with blankets and pillows instead of bubble bath?”

Irma. Being moved

Feeling something. Seeing past the surface. Realizing there is more to life than fear. Can being moved by such an imagine like Irma the baaaaddddeeeesssstttt hurricane so far, include sensing beauty and majesty in being alive despite the odds? This morning an article in our local paper “moved me.” Made me want to be a better person. Lifted me out of myself. Here’s the link so you can ponder it. Find your meaning from Irma. Thank you to Lauren Ritchie who wrote, let’s beat this bad girl.

I wish everyone peace and safety. Be brave. Love each other. We’re all we’ve got.

See you later.

Your writer on the wing,





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7 Responses

  1. Marjorie Patton
    | Reply

    Just want all of you Floridians, to be safe. Take care of each other,sometimes just a pat on the arm will help someone feel better.

  2. Alice
    | Reply

    Lovely and thoughtful as always, Charlene. We’re thinking of you all. Stay safe.

  3. Linda Goddard
    | Reply

    Thank you, Charlene, for your reflections on this storm and our humanness as it winds it’s way up through Florida. I love your reminder to hold hands as we navigate our ways through these next several days.

    Be safe, dear one.

  4. Billy Williams
    | Reply

    The size of France? I know a very caring person who leaves for there today, but she has expressed her concern greatly and I know the storm is on her mind. After having her own house escape the fires out west. She is the child abuse survivor whose account, after Kristen’s, has had the greatest affect on my thinking during the last decade. And that’s what it’s all about, caring. And if you can, doing. Whatever praying and good thoughts mean, I think they get beaten back standing alone, unlike what we were taught you-know-where. And I’d like to also repeat the line above that has a big meaning to me. “If an image that frightens me (understatement of the century) doesn’t also move me, I’m not looking at it as closely as I should.” That is kind of how I felt after I read Kristen’s book. The hell she…and others…went through frightened me, especially when I considered how the hell was repeated time and time and time again. Then the friend I mentioned above really scared me with her account of how the horror of earlier years came back and hit her at a slack time in her life. I wanted to do something so I kept taking a closer look…checking out other accounts of abuse and horror inflicted by the uncaring. As for this storm, I think your line is a great reason to stay informed. If knowing that people are hurting, if being scared at the thought of what they are going through is dismissed because we can’t do anything about it, we will not really be moved.

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