Monday, August 26, 2013


storm clouds brooding over the desert skies

I was got caught in a flash-flood yesterday. Yes as odd as it may seem, there was a flood in the desert yesterday afternoon.

When the emergency warning system sounded the alert that a flood was imminent, I basically ignored it.  It was a typical triple-digit day, the sun was baking the dry desert sand; how could a flood be possible? But within moments dark ominous storm clouds gathered around the mountains, the heavens opened up and the waters were unleashed, flowing over the dry desert sands. The highways were instantly turned into knee-deep rivers, stranding motorists and flooding homes and stores.  

I was on the road at the time and I just made it to the supermarket before the bulk of the storm hit.  We all stood looking out at the rivers of water as cars scurried to get to higher ground. It was then that I suddenly noticed how calm everyone seemed. There was even a sense of "light-heartedness," not happiness, but light-heartedess - low to no anxiety in that supermarket with those folks in the midst of the flood. 

We stood around chatting with one another. Some folks continued shopping. I heard one mom tell her young daughter, "There's nothing we can do about it  honey, at least we made it to the supermarket." A dad and his three kids had come out to pick up a pizza. He obviously wasn't going to take that pizza home, so he and the boys sat at a table in front of the store, cracked open the soda and had a picnic.

As I stood in the midst of it all, I wondered if maybe "desert living" was the cause of such "light-heartednes" as those waters raged by.  I laughingly imagined what the scenario might have looked like if I were back in Los Angeles in one of the big city supermarkets and a flash flood hit. I pictured cries of panic, everyone on their cellphones, sending frantic texts, people running to their cars trying to strategize ways to beat the flood.  

In that desert market, there wasn't a cellphone in sight - only a dad and his kids having a picnic.

I think that people who live in the desert develop a sense of resiliency. The desert is a wild and fierce place. It teaches people that most of what comes along in life cannot be controlled -storms happen, even floods happen in the desert. There's not much you can do about it, so sit and wait, and make the best of it.  

Living in the desert has taught me many life-lessons. The desert provides me with an "icon" of the kind of life I am now trying to live as I walk my spiritual path in my "second half" of life. I try to live mindfully in the moment, without obsessing on the future or the past. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I try not to "cling." I am learning a lesson about being "light-hearted" in the midst of the flooding waters, and the desert is a great teacher.

I finally got to my car and eventually made it home. As I drove along I recited one of my favorite prayers:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and
the wisdom to know the difference.

As I drove down my street, a young couple was walking hand-in-hand, barefoot and laughing as they sloshed through the puddles.


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