As you know by now, my job requires that I do at 7 on 7 off schedule. So Mondays are my transition day. I either spend the day preparing for my first night of 7, or I come home from working night 7, catch a couple hours of sleep then propel myself into my week off. This past Monday morning when I arrived at home and checked the progress of Hurricane Irene, she was projected to make landfall somewhere along the Northern Coast of Florida. I was awakened 2 hours later by an alert on my smart phone announcing that the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center projected Irene to come calling at Edisto Island, a mere 45 miles south of my home near Charleston. It was a surreal moment, did I really just see what I think I saw? After 4 summers of living hurricane free in Charleston, was I finally going to have to deal with one of the most feared of natural disasters for those who live along the coast of the Southeastern United States?
Well, as you know by now, The Land of Palm Trees was pretty much all but spared any measurable devastation, thank God. I had received countless phone calls, text messages, and facebook alerts urging us to be safe, wishing us luck and good fortune with Irene. And I certainly realize just how differently the scenario could have played out.
Once again, one of the primary reasons that I write From The Land of Palm Trees is that I love sharing our lifestyle with others in the hopes that it may inspire the person who may be suppressing their dreams out of the fear of the unknown, or the fear of failure, or the realization that in order to pursue a dream or desire one usually has to step out of their comfort zone, often entering unfamiliar territory and leaving the daily routines of their life behind. Sadly, many dreams simply never materialize out of the fear of trying. We talk ourselves out of chasing a dream, we accept what we know is really not what we want just because we are comfortable and can carry on just fine doing what we are doing. And with every one of our dreams that becomes smothered, a piece of our soul succumbs as well.
If you couldn't tell from reading this blog of mine, I love my new home in The Land of Palm Trees. It doesn't mean that I don't remember where I came from, it doesn't mean that I am not a proud son of West Virginia. It doesn't even mean that I love Charleston, South Carolina more than I love my home, in West Virginia. What it does mean is that, for me and my family, this is where our dreams could be realized. For lots of reasons, I knew that my wife and I, along with our sons could never achieve our dreams if we didn't have the courage to step outside of our comfort zone and try this. To not do it, we would have been accepting less than what we desired. Sadly, I know that many people never have the courage to take that step. And in not chasing their dreams they rationalize and come up with many reasons and excuses. Some may cite the fear of earthquakes for instance. Shortly after we moved to the Lowcountry, the Weather Channel featured our new home, Charleston in a show called It Could Happen Tomorrow, where they illustrated that Charleston is overdue for having a major earthquake. When some of my friends and family members heard about this fact, I heard from more than one of them, "Why would you move someplace that has earthquakes?" Well, millions of residents of the Middle Atlantic region of the US now understand that natural disasters don't always come with a warning before the shaking starts.
Earlier this week when a Lowcountry visit by Irene appeared imminent, I received a call from somebody whom I love very much, and she half-heartedly said, "how's that easy livin' working out for you today?" Once again, why would anybody want to live in a place where they are at risk for natures fury in the form of a hurricane? Tonite, as we realize how lucky we were that Irene passed us by, there are millions of Americans in the population centers of the Northeastern United States staring down the barrel waiting for a possible landfall from a hurricane. In just a matter of days ago many of those people had never considered their chances of experiencing a landfalling hurricane. I pray that they will be just as fortunate as we were in dealing with Irene.
This evening I saw one of the most beautiful natural scenes I have ever witnessed. It was nearly a spiritual experience for me, not just because of the beauty to my eyes, but the way that it warmed my heart to know that in the face of danger we had prepared and planned for the worst, prayed for the best and at that very moment I realized, we had been granted the best possible outcome. And as I gazed upon this wondrous sight, I am convinced that I have never witnessed anything quite like this before in my life. A beautiful red-sky sunset enhanced by the amazing contrast of a clear western sky merging with angry looking band clouds from a major hurricane as it was pulling away from our coastline. Up until that moment I had never been 150 miles from a major hurricane standing under a sky where the hurricane and the normally clear sky converge. The colorful breathtaking sunset that I was witnessing would not have been possible without Irene passing us by. Watching the cloud formations and the fading sunset, I felt very lucky to be right where I was at that moment. And I was reassured that I am living in an amazing place, experiencing amazing things and living a wonderful life that I would have missed out upon if I had allowed myself to settle for the comfortable surroundings of my former home, job and lifestyle. And in that, I hope that somebody will read this and have a realization that it is time for them to courageously follow their dream. So, goodnight Irene, please treat our friends to the North as good as you treated us, go on out to sea or at least calm your fury and be nice.