Perspective: elephant tears and shaking things up.

As I was easing the car out of the parking slot at the grocery store, I paused because a mom and her two small kids around her basket had stopped.  I wondered if I had not seen them.  Then I realized one of them was in tears.  Not tantrum tears but the sad or hurt type of tears.  My husband and I used to call them elephant tears.  So big, so watery, so genuine.  I watched as she wrapped her arms around the older of the two and just held her.  I finished backing out and headed home.

About an hour later I was using what I'd bought at the store to make a new beef chili recipe that had unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon in it.   I'd heard about it on the radio that morning.  It's  'Cincinnati Chile'. I was browning the beef and dicing lots of onions.

The phone rang.  I would have never believed I'd be playing the part of the mom in the parking lot.  But I was in a kitchen, not a parking lot, and the frantic, melt-down voice was not close enough to wrap in my arms but was in New Zealand and something was very wrong.  I honestly thought she was trying to tell me her husband had died.  I couldn't think of anything else that would cause the elephant tears I was hearing pour down her face. 

She was trying to say there had been another huge earthquake in Christchurch (aka ChCh).  It was hard to get info but in short order: she was safe, it happened when she was at work, buildings were down, the house was a mess, her husband was trying to get back to the house from a harbor over the hill, and they needed to find his mom since she wasn't picking up the phones.

What do you do?  What can you do?  What I did was to start praying...not just for them but for all those affected.  I cried out of frustration.  I focused my frustration on the onions which made me weep all the more as they went from a dice to a mince.

Once I knew Sutter and Sean (aka S&S) were together I went on FaceBook.  I made a post on her wall. Just a few short sentences and then did the same thing on Sean's wall, and my son's wall, and my wall.  Four identical messages and four 'share' buttons hit and voila! hundreds of people could find out they were safe.

And then with the help of Skype and their for-a-fee service allowing calls from a computer to cell phones I was able to make consistent but limited contact.  Now a week later, we just finished a 90+ minute video Skype conversation: phone-less, call-for-free service, computer to computer. 

Reality is setting in there.   It's not a matter of clothes or food.  It's about how fast can you ship a new infrastructure to a major city?  Oh that's right you can't ship that.  Everything needs to be fixed: water, sewer, power, roads, train tracks.  The Central Business District (CBD)  is cordoned off and owners can't get in to their businesses.   Even if an owner could get to his/her business, there is no business because huge numbers of people have left the area...maybe for a short time but maybe for good. 

Now the debates start about preserving wrecked buildings.  How does a rather socialist government take care of the people and the mess?  Folks are quite self-sufficient there but they have expectations of assistance from the programs they have paid not enough money into to meet those expectations.

What do we learn?  We need to depend less on government and more on ourselves.  There is no government that can fix these issues these days.  Governments are broke and broken. 

With adversity comes opportunity.  To see the opportunity one has have a vision beyond what the eyes see.  One needs to play the game "What if?" over and over again.  It means devising mental scenarios with as many twists and turns as possible to anticipate the unintended consequences.  It means having a Plan B and a Plan C.  With those as back-ups one can then stay in the moment and watch the puzzle pieces fill in the big picture.  I am convinced I am describing my kids and their spouses, because they've shown us how they make decisions.

I hope the loving mom I saw in the parking lot has accepted the privilege of showing her kids, by her own life,  how to think critically about the decisions they make starting...yesterday.  Then if/when she gets a call like I got, after the initial panic, may her voice remind them of the tools they have in their skill box.  Her confidence in them will hopefully calm her so she can get to that other really  important part....prayers for all.

Live richly, marilyn

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