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Nothing like a disaster to remind us what matters in life

The sense of camaraderie is awesome.

I am struck by the human spirit and how people rise up, come together, and wake up for a moment from our mental routines to actually be present to one another.

I so well recall the vulnerable raw authenticity of the “how are you?” conversations with strangers in the subway for weeks after 911.

Jonathan Katz writes about being in Port-au-Prince after the Haiti mega-quake…saying that the sense of community didn’t just unravel, but became stronger in the weeks after the quake, with people across Haiti putting aside political squabbles and deep-rooted differences of class and race to support one another.

Rebecca Solnit writes in her 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell, recounts the way people in disasters from Katrina to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake to a 1917 ship explosion in Halifax, Nova Scotia, showed their best qualities in the wake of disasters.

To all affected by Sandy, I hope you and your families are safe.

And to all the rest of us:

  1. Maximize this unique moment by stepping out a little further right now – make a positive difference in whatever way speaks to you, lend a hand to a neighbor or a stranger in need, or just be that much more present to those around you.
  2. Let this moment of awakeness to the human spirit wash over us.
  3. May we take note of how it feels and what it brings out in us.
  4. Keep that note as testament to what is already in us.
  5. Bring awareness, attention and reminders in your life to drawing this out and bringing it more fully to life in your everyday life.


Photo from inhabitat.

author: Meredith Haberfeld