Yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of Katrina hitting the gulf coast. As I hopped on Facebook yesterday morning, there were many people and friends posting their laments. It is/was a truly tragic occurrence in our history. My Mother-in-law lost everything, save a few items. My parents were displaced for many months and friends who were teachers and worked within the foundation of New Orleans went back as soon as they could and worked in mangled office buildings only to return to their own home at nights and work on them. It was a challenging and trying time for everyone involved in the city at the time.
At the two-year anniversary mark I was asked by my editor at the paper I wrote for (Columbia City Newspaper), to write on the city 2 years after Katrina. I accepted and really wanted to but I wanted to take a positive spin on things. Everyone was writing about the violence and the living conditions. I wanted to give the reader a view on what was happening to better the city. I wanted people to read about those who hadn’t lost hope and who refused to let the past speak for them and their future.
So I set out to write. After a week doing interviews, researching etc., I handed in my first draft. My editor got in touch with me and said the article wasn’t exactly what he had in mind. He and the owner were hoping for drama in a nutshell. I refused and told him that I wrote the article in the way I felt it needed to be written, after all there were so many stories out there that focused on the harsh side of things, my article would bring hope and give a good view of the city I loved. After so much negative media coverage I was anxious to show folks how deceiving the media can be. they only paint the picture they want you to see, not the truth. Anyways, the editor and owner finally agreed and people loved the article, they said they found it refreshing.
We can become so focused on the negative things in life and the tragedy can seem overwhelming, but if we allow our selves to focus on what can be gained and learned from it, we can truly begin to grow. I don’t want to focus on the past and weep every year the anniversary of something tragic comes around, I want to remember and go forward with that knowledge, putting it to good use. The person who stays stuck in the past, never lives in the future. Ask the City of New Orleans.
I admit that in saying all of this my experience with tragedy is small in comparison with others out there so I mean no disrespect to those who have experienced it. I am not saying “get over it”, I am simply posing the question of, “What can you take from something terrible and how can you apply it positively in the future?” Let the tragedy become the symbol for hope, kind of like the pink ribbon of breast cancer. It symbolizes cancer yes, but it also shows us hope and not a groundless hope either, one built and seen and brought to fruition in reality.
So today may your tragedies offer you hope. Don’t allow them to be a dark cloud but rather a beacon to light your way into the great realm of possibilities of the future.