Say YES To You and Others During the Storm

I never thought I’d be singing the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” while looking outside the window of my neighbor’s fifth floor apartment, which is located next to mine, in a lovely apartment building just off the East River in Manhattan.  I was using Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics to calm us as we saw waves pummeling up our street.

“When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark!”  I think of those lyrics and the tears fill my eyes. His lyrics (with Richard Rodger’s melodies and, in Show Boat, Jerome Kern’s melodies) almost always “catch” the true meaning of so many things for me.  I feel blessed that my parents took me to see Broadway musicals when I was four years old. My dad, an attorney, knew many theater owners and he got them to let me in, I saw Carousel when I was five.  I’m dwelling on songs here because these songs are like prayer for me. The characters who sing them have the wisdom of pure spirit.

I’m writing about this storm, because I saw how clearly saying “YES” to myself – “Yes, we’re going to be all right.” – helped me to help my neighbors keep their spirits up. We had no idea how much damage the storm was doing to other areas of the city and Long Island that got hit even worse than we did. We couldn’t know what was happening because the TVs and radios and phones were down. My landline was working but after I sang the song to my lovely neighbor who was in the hall and told her all is well and the storm will pass, she insisted I come over to her place, where a few of the wonderful people from India who live on a higher floor in the building had come down. She was kindly having their older relative stay in her apartment, because the older woman couldn’t walk the stairs to the high floor. When I came in she winked at me and declared, “Let’s have wine, cheese and crackers and watch the storm go by!”

Instead of everyone thinking of “doom” all started marveling at Mother Nature. It was one of the most exciting things we’d ever seen. The water was pouring over the East River bank. The cars began to disappear under the water and the next evening, when I dared to walk down stairs to our lobby,  I found out that the lobby had four feet of water in it the night before! There was still some when I went downstairs to check things out.

By the way, I was still wearing the boot the orthopedist had given me for the stress fracture I spoke of last month.

I’m blessed also to have remembered to say YES to myself when I chose to move into this building over eleven years ago.  The people here have come to New York from all over the world because the building is near the UN and many of the missions to the UN own apartments for their reps here. My incredibly helpful Brazilian born neighbors came to check on me. He taped my windows for me before the storm hit. He’s a doctor and his gorgeous wife got to the hospital to give birth to their second adorable child during the weeks we were without heat, light, etc!  My Italian neighbors made sure I was okay and had me for coffee the next day and I checked on my “adopted daughter” (her mom is in Bagdad) who is developing into a highly respected negotiator at the Iraqi Mission.

What I’m getting at is that people from everywhere and every culture are good and worth saying YES to.  I prayed that the leaders of countries could see how saying YES to each other can turn fear into calm and even joy.

Yes, there were people in other neighborhoods who experienced incredibly major losses, even the loss of life, during Sandy; but we say YES to ourselves, which leads us to see that others, in times of need, need a YES.  I contend that if people and governments used his way of thinking we can turn supposedly needed wars into friendship. When we all truly say YES to ourselves, we can learn to say YES to our neighbors, of all colors and nationalities, all the time! Sometimes that YES may need to be a “no” to a specific issue said in a way that leads to research on which actions would serve everybody best re that issue. Why not? I commit to keep befriending people from everywhere, including people from places which we’re supposed to be close to war with.  Perhaps a politician from one of the nations that thinks it needs war will get a glimpse of what working together, better yet, ***playing*** together, can accomplish. It just might lead to positive change! I’m committed to keep saying YES to me – by going in and doing my best to seek choices based on wisdom and saying YES to the “hearts” of people I cross paths with.  That doesn’t mean always agreeing with their thoughts of the moment. It means knowing that they need someone to hear them too. Then there could be a chance we survive the storm together.