Best Efforts

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August 10, 2022- In the midst of the confluence between the first COVID outbreak and the hurricane season, two years ago, I found myself on the floor of a large congregate hurricane shelter, in Alexandria, LA. I had been getting messages about that city, for about two months, so it came as no surprise that the Red Cross sent me there. What was surprising was that I managed to be on the floor, in constant motion, helping a variety of people with sometimes complicated concerns, for up to nine hours-and being able to wind down, getting enough sleep for the next day’s activities. There were no full days of rest allowed, though we did get up to three hours off, on one day of our choice during this two-week period. This was mainly because of the Shelter Manager’s assessment of the situation, which was not all that far off the mark. It was probably the most physically intense event that any of us had worked.

I was given a high rating on performance of duties, for that assignment. Even if that had not been the case, it would not have mattered much. I did my level best and felt that I had. No one else’s opinion really mattered, though the clients, who were mostly lower middle class people, of white, black and Hispanic descent, gave me a hearty thanks. That felt good.

Don Miguel Ruiz, in the fifth chapter of “The Four Agreements”, casts the agreement to do one’s best, across situations and physical states, as the prerequisite to overcoming the failure to keep one’s word, the tendency to take things personally and the making of assumptions. Since the latter three are themselves derived from self-doubt, and are only fed by the negative energy of others, the mindset that one has done one’s best diverts from such self-defeating practices. It sets the stage for a new set of agreements, which are proactive in building a world based on true personal inner peace and positive relationships.

The Universe, almost in keeping with the spirit that welled up in me, after I read that chapter, provided work for tomorrow, three substitute assignments for next week and a social gathering, across the state, on Saturday evening. The respite of about ten days has been sufficient and it will be reaffirming to be back in service.

Now, I need to put the trash out.

The Hotel Project, Day 11

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October 5, 2020, Dallas-

I get that the president wants to get back to his work. I am also one to be looking at finishing what I start. One of our coworkers is sidelined by illness, which may or may not be COVID19. None of the rest of us are showing symptoms, though, so it could be something entirely different. The same thing happened in Alexandria, and the one person was quarantined-with the rest of us not becoming infected.

We resolved the missing clothing problem, from last week and a very happy, relieved client was reunited with her wardrobe. Several others began to take ownership of their short-term futures, though the human aversion to change was evident, among many of the people.

There is, on balance, an appreciation for what Red Cross has done for the communities in southern Louisiana, with none of the agitation by the Far Right that followed Hurricane Harvey, in 2017. The organization is committed to continuing to work WITH the people and communities of the region, as they face both return to the area and yet another hurricane, this coming weekend. Many have said, flat-out, that they will relocate to Texas, permanently. I’m sure many more will choose to move elsewhere, once the fullness of the hurricane season is through.

Tomorrow is the last full day of deployment and Wednesday will be a transit day. Both will be full of activity and change.