Hurricane Irma, Thursday September 7th 2017. I am a Florida resident living in an evacuation zone projected to be hit by a cat 4 hurricane. I am a broke single woman with my own 3 actual cats, a cat 3 human if you will. I am a Martin Health System office worker, full time, whose office has been closed Friday & Monday. So, the reasonable solution was Go Now. You can pray just as easily inland as you can from your imperiled abode.
I didn't want to travel; wrangling cats into safe carrier vessels is not easy, generally not fun & the 3 hour turnpike trip to grandma’s is never fun for them. Further, there is a blurry spot in my field of vision that doctors thus far haven't diagnosed, & it makes doing everything more difficult for me. Also quite frightening for a photographess artmaker. Still, the 3 beasts & I set out. Because Measures.
Repetitive lines, indication marks of many kinds of measurement were everywhere. Those white dashes on the road (they mean one is allowed to pass another in safe conditions) mesmerize me every time I take a drive of lengthy duration. I drove already tired from working all day, packing & wrestling the fur babies into their evacuation chariots. I drove at least an hour & a half at about 5 miles per hour. During this time I made an observation that I had never before had occasion to hear crickets whilst driving on the turnpike.
There wasn't really a choice about an alternate route at this stage, in the dark, so I dug my metaphysical heels in. A tired mind can still be a useful mind for some modalities, & I needed to continue. My mind slipped into a more meditative state from a survivalist nucleus. I did not dare spend energy thinking about the line of red dots, tail lights as far as the eye could see. We set out, you see, for a 3 hour trip at 8:30 p.m.; it was now 5 a.m. I had started dreaming while driving, some of those tail lights became party dresses, so I pulled over with a plan to power nap. I waited an inordinately long time at (5 MPH again) on the on ramp to the service center, parked, & apologized to the cats profusely. I floated in, yet on my two feet, a woman out of space & time.
I met a supernal fish there at the Okahumpka Service Plaza. It was the fish that a child leans to draw, I can't think of a better description than this. Silver, simple, large eyes. We had a moment. I looked at this magestic fish in it's tank & it looked at me too, curious, inquerious. I did not tap the glass, there was no need. We had one another's attention.
I didn't take a picture of him either, again there was no need. I could not have captured this magic but only flattened it. One thing photography is is an instrument; some ordinary things will play toward true magic with it, revealing further elements and information. Other things will subtract from that depth instead. I even wonder if I should be writing about it now, but here we are. One of the things that observing Shabbat taught me is that as much as I love to take pictures of things, not everything wondrous needs its picture taken. Sometimes things such as this are expressly for being & experiencing.
I could have had this wordless conversation with Our Fish for hours, truly, but I was mindful of the 3 that were counting on me for their safety. I didn't have the luxury of lingering in mixed feelings at the moment, so I couldn't linger in my conversation either. I used the restroom, bought some liquid that would support me in my desire not to fall asleep & continued onward. Admittedly hazy calculations told me with moderate certainty that I was about 20 minutes from my desired destination. There were my mom and my sister, also a room with a door I would share with my baby monsters (meow), a comfy couch, a soft pillow. Lucky. Many people in similar straights had a good deal less to work with, or to look forward to.
Now I have this to say for the people of Florida; they were to a one courteous, polite, careful, considerate despite being in a persistently frustrating traffic situation, and everything else we all had on our minds. It was perhaps because of this that everyone was extra careful; everyone knew that everyone else might be at least as tired as they were themselves. Clear for all of us in a way that we were in the same boat, just trying to make it through the locks.
In addition to Our Fish, I met a few dogs along the way, one of them pictured here inside his owners van. He was traveling with his large Spanish speaking family, they had 2 cars, maybe more. I imagined that they came from South Miami, or even the Keys, but they could have been from anywhere. This little dog looked just how I felt, & how I think most of us felt. If you look at the photo, need I say more? I don’t know.
The drive back home was somewhat less strenuous, physically shorter time-wise, and the beasts were greatly relieved to be back in their own digs. Electric was still spotty for much of the ‘hood though, and the lack of running water in my building was highly disconcerting. It _would_ be back on though, & although I didn’t know when I was still keenly grateful once more, & thinking of those who were still in a bigger mess than I could even imagine.
At the conclusion of this little kaleidoscope of my own experience, don't feel I can say much that others haven't said before. Tragedy, disaster pulls us together etcetera. Well it certainly can, but we are at any given time at a significant risk that it will NOT, depending. I will say this- we each need to train ourselves to plan the same kind of unity consciousness I saw exhibited amongst my fellow refugees as a daily normality. It takes practice, & everyone has a different opinion about how to go about this kind of spiritual training according to their own backgrounds & life experiences. I guess I just want to float this idea out for now, & may G*d help each one of us find & utilize the way that is best for our souls. Thank you & G*dspeed.
Written on the advent of Hurricane Irma, and completed October 2017