It’s What We Do With It That Matters

“Remember Elizabeth Anne, nothing is ever all bad. It is what we do with it that makes the difference.”

These words were spoken to me often by my great-grandmother when I was a child. And, I have found myself struggling with them many times as an adult. And, as I wait long enough and “sit with” their larger meaning and search the larger picture, more and more, I find them true.

Today, I am sitting in my studio looking out over the lake, and I am again seeing their meaning.

Night before last, we had a horrendous storm. The merciless rain came down in ceaseless torrents. Several times, as the lightening crashed and banged around us, one of us would comment – “This is really a big one and it just goes on and on.”

One of the reasons we did not feel alarmed was that we did not get an “alert” by phone or TV and our local weather people are very good about keeping us “informed.” As it turned out, this was a very isolated band of storms hitting what turned out to be a narrow path of hills and valleys which were mostly rural. Indeed, we in our area, seemed to be the only ones who knew about it.

We could hear the normally gentle stream that runs by our house become a raging torrent and, when we checked, rooms and the basement were being flooded. As it turned out it was a 500-year storm (one in five-hundred years). When we discovered our propane tanks were floating, it was too late and off they went down the creek. One ended up in the lake and one in the woods between us and the lake.

Ah, the joys of living in the country on a lake! We are surrounded by “good old hillbillies” like myself and by the next day, the main dirt road and our driveway had been grated, the propane company with the assistance of our neighbors and friends had floated one of the propane tanks (500 or 1,000 gallons) down the lake to the boat dock, loaded it on a special trailer, and all seemed about normal.

Oh yes, the lights and TV went out for a while (we had flashlights readily available), one of the phones quit, the water went out for a few moments – – – we all were alive and well, the storm was magnificent! We had to mop up a few rooms (time for a good cleaning anyway, good time to get rid of stuff which we no longer wanted or needed). It seemed to me that old resentments and disagreements vaporized as we worked together. I certainly slept well.

The day after, Pete, Chuck and I had to go into town for scheduled meetings and Gary, our beloved caretaker, the county road grater, the gas company, and the rest of the family cleaned up and reorganized. We were all tired, happy and pleased with ourselves together.

Today, two days later, is the 4th of July. I love the 4th of July and the meaning it has for our country – Freedom, Justice, a Beacon for a new way to live with one-another and this earth. The 4th of July can be a great pause for all of us to remember what is ultimately important to us as a nation.

As I sit here and look out over the lake, it is lovely and peaceful. There is still one big propane tank to be retrieved from the woods down by the lake and the other is alive and well in its temporary position, doing its job.

Although I love the 4th of July, I also have come to dread it since we have lived out here on the lake. Our “lakefront” has become a favored destination point for boaters, especially on the holidays. There is a little “beach,” a waterfall, and rocks to climb and sun on. There have been times when we could walk across the inlet on boats and never touch the water.

Often these “busy times” are accompanied by loud music, screams and generally a high noise level. Although the lakefront is legally public property – as it should be – we always have some who find it necessary to cross the barrier and come in to our front yard. They often get offended when I get my bullhorn out to remind them that this is our front yard and private property as marked.

  • Of course, we are always available when and if anyone needs help.

All of the above is to say that after the storm and the ongoing cleanup, needless to say, our family is pretty wiped out and was looking forward to a quiet day off.

  • Well – nothing is all bad –

As I looked out over the shoreline – there were no hoards of people! One boat was trying to get in and there was such a barrier of dead trees, limbs, leaves and dirt (all organic) that no one could get through. From past experience I know that these organic materials will go back to the earth and feed the fish.

For the first 4th of July I can remember for almost twenty years, the lake is quiet and peaceful. Not only is my soul – my world is peaceful – for a while – one day anyway. I sure needed that today. Thank you storm. Thank you debris pile. Thank you new storm coming in so people have to get off the lake. I appreciate the pause . . . another day perhaps.

As Shakespeare said: “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

I love sitting here looking out over the peaceful lake and debris field as we all heal with a new storm forming over the lake.

What a good day to stay inside and wash and dry the towels we used to mop up the water that came in the rooms and the basement. We needed to clean out that storeroom anyway.

It may take us years to see what we learned from some things we have experienced and that possibility is always there.

2 thoughts on “It’s What We Do With It That Matters

  1. I love this story Anne. It really resonates with me at this time in my life while raising a young family of four with little support. We don’t have villages anymore. I keep going, appreciating what I have and working with what I’ve got. Just ‘sitting with’ life. X

  2. Aye aye, it’s about attitude, gratitude, reframing and waiting for God to make lemonade from lemons.

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