The Great Ice Storm of 2007, as it has become known, swept through the Midwest last Monday evening. Northwest Missouri was particularly hard hit, and that is where I live. Our electrical power was out very early in the morning on Tuesday. I woke up to a cold house. There are several strategies to deal with loss of power, one is to get out of Dodge. But my pride would not let me give in to a little old ice storm.
I had offers from many folks, not you I should note, but from people who genuinely care about me and my safety. Your sister called, “Come stay with us, WE have power.” After her third call I was pretty sure she was just gloating. I showed her and everyone else; I hunkered down and built a fire in the fireplace and proudly suffered for three days.
On the third day I was actually asking myself, ‘What is wrong with you? Are you nuts or something?’ My pride was beginning to crack under the strain of discomfort.
The mental processes in a crisis are strange animals, and we can never really know the truth. I told myself that I was being an optimist, that I just had a good attitude about life. The Newspaper was reporting that all power would not be restored for at least a week – but I thought, ‘no way.’ That will not happen. Our local electric company has some of the best and most loyal and reliable employees that can be found. They will get the power on sooner rather than later.
This is my house, my home. Abandoning my home felt like a Captain abandoning ship. Get the women and children and all passengers off first. Go down with the ship. But when there are plenty of lifeboats for everyone – shouldn’t the Captain get in the last one leaving? But pride is powerful and it can overrule reason.
On the second day of no power another crisis presented itself. My water heater blew a seal and spewed water around my basement. The timing with the ice storm was just a coincidence – but the mental duress of the storm was compounded with additional problems. The problem of asking for help again presented itself. I am talking about taking out the old water heater and installing a new one. What’s the problem, two water lines and a gas line – how tough can that be? The bigger problem is getting the bulky and heavy water heater out of the basement and getting a new water heater carried in.
My brain started racing with thoughts of block-and-tackle rope systems – all in the interest of me doing the job by myself. My pride was (and is) operating at full capacity. There are a number of people right here in my hometown who would be glad to help me – but that is not the point. I can do this myself.
But here is the important question: When is it wise to surrender? That is a great life paradox. We can actually win by surrendering. We are ahead when we give up. Surrender itself can be the most noble action.
Last evening I almost gave up. I almost surrendered. Almost. I was ready to get out of Dodge. Ready to run for my life, with my tail between my legs, begging for help from others. As I was somberly packing my bags the calvary arrived. The light and power crews came into my neighborhood with a big snorkel truck and flashing orange lights and determined looks.
I win. I win. I win. I outlasted the storm. My pride has been redeemed, bolstered to a new height of insanity. Now, where is that new water heater? I’m ready.