PORCH SWING POINT OF VIEW: Hurricanes and Binoculars


Hurricane Dorian has been the prevailing topic of the past few weeks and left in its path now is utter destruction and ruin.  Those watching news coverage of the storm will note the mention of a small island off the coast of North Carolina called “Ocracoke”.  A name and an island which means little to most of us is home to about a thousand residents and among those residents is one of my cousins who has lived and worked on the island for several years as a National Park Service Ranger.  I’ve never been to visit him on the island, but he describes it as a community not unlike ours – tight-knit, and home to some families for generations.  

After the devastation of the storm, with his home flooded and his nearly-new pickup truck ruined, he took to social media to alert family and friends of his safety, and rather than curse the storm which brought such destruction, he praised the efforts of the locals and the overwhelming outpouring of support from those both near and far.  Left with the choice of cursing the darkness or praising the light, he chose to see the good, not the bad.  I’m quite sure he felt anger and disdain towards the storm and its effects, along with a certain helplessness and hopelessness, but rather than dwelling on those, he looked towards recovery and the help of others.

Pick up a set of binoculars sometime and peer through the big ends.  Yes, backwards…the opposite side.  (Perhaps try this when no one is watching).  You’ll find you can still see through them, but everything looks far away, dim, and out of focus.  If that was how everyone used binoculars, they certainly wouldn’t do much good, but turn them around and your field of vision clears as far distances are brought up close for inspection.  This is the real intention of the device.  In life, it seems to me our perception of a situation depends upon which end of the binoculars we use.  We can choose to view a situation dimly, from afar, with an attitude of vengeance, isolation, and ire, or we can bring it into focus, and with the help of magnification, the good begins to take shape.  

I don’t know if my cousin pulled out his binoculars, or even whether or not they were filled with briny seawater.  I doubt he did.  But I do know he made a decision to consciously look for the positive:  the community coming together and the support of others.  The road of recovery will be long and arduous, and at times I suspect the temptation to see only the negative will be strong, but I know one of life’s great truths:  the good will be there always if we but just look for it.  

From my porch swing this week I give thanks for the safety of my cousin and I keep the people of Ocracoke and all those suffering from Dorian in my thoughts.  And, as always, I keep you, my readers both near and far, in my thoughts as well.  May you find the good, however small, in whatever challenges you’re facing.

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