Unsettling events on a local level

Joyce Pemberton Columnist

These are curious and confusing times, and I’m feeling a little like Alice when Wonderland wasn’t making sense. Just like Alice, to me, things seem to be getting “curiouser and curiouser.”

Take the weather, for example. Yesterday the sun was shining on a 71-degree day. People were strutting downtown in short sleeve shirts, and the garden aisle at Town Hardware was filled with shoppers anticipating the coming of spring. Now, two days later, the forecast is calling for a high of 41 degrees with a chance of freezing rain.

The birds, my blooming daffodils and my wardrobe are all equally confused.

Not to be outdone by unpredictable weather, the political season refuses to take an overdue break as well. The vitriol has not lessened since the presidential election; in fact, if recent opinions printed in this paper are any indication, the sky-is-falling attitude of imminent disaster is increasing from those whose candidate did not win.

I can’t recall anything like it before, and I’ve lived through 12 presidents. Personally, I’m weary of it all, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. To quote our buddy Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Curious and confusing times.

But even more confusing than unpredictable weather or political bickering was the recent car accident in our little town last week.

What about our unsuspecting neighbors who happened to be sitting in that intersection at that exact time. They were just going about their usual routines, heading home from work, or maybe to the store or to see a friend. Sitting in their cars thinking about the day that was ending and maybe thinking about tomorrow, and things they needed to get done before the week was out.

Lives were changed forever in that one unbelievable instant, and although the debris has been swept away, that intersection will never look the same to those who happened to be sitting there at that moment. The physical, emotional, and psychological impact will ripple on for quite a while, perhaps for the rest of their lives.

And what about the rest of us? For those who weren’t there, and didn’t feel the physical impact or terror of that moment? What are we supposed to take away from this?

Tragedies have a way of making us look inward, don’t they? As students of life, that is what we are supposed to do – take stock of ourselves in light of events that impact us. Too often we want to point fingers at others, but what is the lesson for you and me?

Maybe it’s that we need to appreciate what we have and to stop wishing for more. Maybe it’s to stop obsessing on things we cannot change, like the weather and a presidential election, and focus instead on reaching out to change those things we can – like hunger and homelessness in our own community. Maybe it’s to be thankful for limbs that function and people who love us and to voice that gratitude as often as we can.

Or maybe it’s as simple as this - we are not promised tomorrow, so make today count for good.

As for me, I’m going to take a walk downtown and smile at strangers for absolutely no reason other than this - they might need it. And maybe I do too.