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Howling winds continued well into the night, as sky-stretched trees shivered and ached, in fear of being uprooted from the only patch of earth they have known. Rain traveled sideways, thrashing against the window panes. Light bulbs flickered, blinking, as if wincing moments before giving way to nature’s will.

Morning is eerily quiet, calm. Winds have died down, retreated, moved on in remorseless destructive paths. Drizzling is the rain now, the sky ready to close its flood gates, clouds still looming ominously. Droplets of the sky’s remains hang on the tips of red and orange leaves, tugging with what force and wait remains. The air is crisp, on the border of frigid, as if Sandy briskly brushed passed us, leaving a whiff of foul perfume, lingering and settling.

Downed trees still lay upon their wreckage, on homes, cars, roads. Ships are thrown on land, basements and subways are submerged, and millions await in pitch black darkness, helpless but not hopeless, waiting for and through the inevitable.

We live as invincibles. We live as though we shall not falter, as though we demand control of our destinies, our fortunes, our paths. We live as though our logic is supreme over outer forces, known and unknown, as if untouchable, doubtless. We live as though we are trustworthy, as though good innately emanates from within, through all circumstances, more than enough to justify our own sanctity.

Moments like these beg to differ.

We are not invincible. We may falter, and we may very well lose control of destiny, fortune and paths. Our logic may not prove to be supreme, and we may indeed remain doubtful. Justification of strength, of good, of infallible tendencies, may be put aside, rested, to raise eyes to something beyond our grasp, our knowledge, our comfort boundaries.

Acceptable is the confession of weakness. Tolerable is the acknowledgement of vulnerability, of fallacy. For in the midst of a storm, we are nothing but a dot on the radar, miniscule beings, subject to nature’s will and doing. For in these times, we remember compassion, we invoke prayer, we revive communal sanctity. For in these times, we reminisce grace.

Amidst chaotic whirlwinds, the eye of the storm is calm, ignorant to its far away developments. Maybe we all live in the eye of the storm, yet fail to recognize the rings of destruction surrounding us. We are vulnerable, we are fragile. When the storm shifts, drifts ever so slightly to the left or to the right, the full effects engulf our lives, uprooting the foundational beliefs that have anchored most everything palpable.

We will no doubt rise again, mend the destruction, and come out like purified gold, fortified steel.

But when the tides withdraw and power is restored, we will once again return to the eye of the storm, awaiting the next uncontrollable event. Remember our weakness, remember our vulnerabilities. Remember how lives have changed in the blink of an eye, where our logic, our planning, our own goodwill have done so little.

So we live in the eye of the storm as if we are riding Sandy’s tides. Our eyes look to the heavens in humble prayer, for our lives are in firmer hands than our own. Our eyes look to our brethren in need, for our lives are intertwined in more ways than we think.

Godspeed.

There’s something manly about cooking stew.

On cold, rainy nights during law school, I’d buy bags of vegetables and stock from Super Fresh (which was neither super nor fresh). Hunched over the tiny sink in my hole-in-the-wall apartment, all that peeling and chopping was actually exhilarating, stress-relieving, dragging my mind out of endless books and useless assignments. A giant pot of stew would last days, and with some Tabasco sauce and good French bread, it warmed even the nastiest of souls during a tumultuous period in my life.

Here on the East Coast, we wait in silence, in the calm before the storm. The air is crisp but not too cold, the wind has picked up slightly, and rain is drizzling. Nothing out of the ordinary yet, but who knows what tonight and tomorrow will bring.

During this calm, I once again peeled and chopped. Wholesome chunks of potatoes, carrots and celery go into the pot. Butternut squash, onions and broccoli soon join. Eggplant is something new in my routine, but a pleasant addition, and baby bella mushrooms is a must. Canned corn and crushed tomatoes marry everything together. And garlic, lots and lots of garlic.

Heaps of coarsely chopped produce thrown together, simmering for hours in a bathtub of a pot. Men, including me, would almost always prefer to be gnawing on a brat off the grill or a bleeding bone-in ribeye any day of the week. But one exception could be this stew. Something about big chunks. Something about mounds of food. Something about letting the thing simmer for hours over low heat.

So I sit here “stewing” before the storm.

Waiting.

God speed.

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