Normally, this time of year would find me plotting and planning a trip to Louisiana for the annual OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering. For the second year in a row, that’s not happening – mostly due to COVID concerns (and rightly so). This year, Winter decided to howl down from the north, and push me even further indoors (mostly due to my horribly compromised immune system). All of that has allowed me to spend more time on my studies, as well as continue the re-build of everything I comprehend about my Spirituality.
Here in Tejas, the temperatures over the last few days have been intolerably cold. Then again, I have bivouacked in even more extreme temperatures in the wilds of Denmark, the highlands of Scotland, and even in the forests of Germany. I was also a bit more prepared and adjusted to those temperatures, thanks to the United States Air Force (USAF) and the command structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Each of those times were training exercises that were mean to test our capabilities of operating in extreme temperatures and what each organization referred to as “disparate environments.” In our training manuals, these exercises were referred to as “implementations of situational readiness.” That is something that the Tejas government was hardly prepared for. To be fair, weather and temperatures like this are once-in-a-generation happenstance. This is not what the state government expects to occur, and thus is something that they do not prepare for.
I spent eight years in Command-and-Control environments in the United States Air Force. Situational preparedness was a common theme in daily life. The threats that could occur ranged from power outages to nuclear warfare. As a member of a unit, you trained for any scenario that could be thought of and learned to adapt what you had learned to whatever was presented to you. When I left the US military, I pivoted to corporate Disaster Recovery, where the focus was on rebuilding the business infrastructure to get the company back on its feet and quickly operating after some form of a disaster. In this job, my department spent a lot of time sand-tabling scenarios. That is, we spent a lot of time dreaming up ways to destroy the company and what techniques could be used to rebuild it quickly. Many times, we did that in the lunchroom of the company’s main building. We were quite loud. Like the time we cleared the lunchroom by discussing a gas tanker running out of control off the interstate and sliding through the main lobby of the building. We discussed what the mortality rates would be, how many people we thought would actually be able to escape down the fire exits (we were in an eleven story building), and how we would reconstitute the company’s operating capacity in a parking lot that would also have to be utilized for massive casualty emergency response. Yes, we were a blast to have in the lunchroom. 😊 And as I noted, we could easily clear the lunchroom with one of our animated sand-table sessions.
During the cold weather here in my area, I left the house a total of zero times. I have spent a lot of time reading, listening to my audio lessons, watching television, sleeping, and trying to stay as warm as I possible can. This weather did not take me by surprise. The weather forecasters have been talking non-stop about this extreme drop in temperatures for a few days before it occurred. I had plenty of time to stock up on food items and be a bit more prepared. But all of this did give me a few moments to pause and reflect on my past, as well as how prepared I am for moments of uncertainty in moments of Life.
The last six months have been some of the most tumultuous that I have had in my life. Yet, despite everything that has happened, I continue to survive through it all. Because, essentially, I am a survivor. Again, I can thank the US military for that. For eight years, I was taught how to handle situations where nothing goes as planned. While I am not the better for where I am, I will eventually be better off. Rebuilding takes time.
I think the hardest part of the last six months is not having my Druid family nearby. As I said earlier, it has been quite a while since I have seen the people that are my family. Online contact has been sporadic as well, as everyone is doing what they need to, in these times of COVID. However, I know they are there. From time to time, we cross Paths online, and do a mini “catch up” by whatever means. Just stuff that can suffice for a short period of time.
As I learned in the military, being prepared is not about having every single contingency answered with this procedure or that pieces of equipment. This is about being flexible, being able to utilize what you have at hand to make it through. This is about being patient, too. I am just as restless as anyone else being here at home. I want to be outside. I want to go hiking. I want to breathe in a world awakening from its Winter slumber. Right now, its dangerous for me to be outside. The cold weather could have catastrophic effects on my pulmonary system. Yes, the pneumonia I contracted after coming home from Iceland really did quite a number on my health. I am still recovering from all of that. I am better, but still must be somewhat cautious. Things will be better. I am sure of that. I must be patient.
Through all of what I have tugged out of the shadows here, being patient is the most important aspect. Yes, there is always a sense of urgency in getting things moving in the initial aspects of impending uncertainty. But once everything is stabilized, patience and calm is important in relation to moving forward. So, another year will pass without me seeing my OBOD family. In the coming year, we will all change even more than where we have managed to now. There will be a lot of differences between the last time we met, and the next time we will. Welcome to life. Ever changing, always growing. Whatever those changes may be…. we are all still family in my eyes.