And yet, it's a gentle (if annoying) constant patter of water against our lives. Nothing like the thundering gales that are battering other parts of the world. We have no flooding, no gale force winds, no empty grocery stores where water is scarce in bottles, though abundant in places it usually isn't.
The other night, I answered the phone to find someone on the other end taking a (I assume) public service survey. He wasn't Swedish, and consequently I had a hard time understanding him, though he spoke Swedish perfectly well. Without lips to read, I struggled to grasp the entirety of each sentence and had to ask him to repeat himself several times. His questions had to do with my knowledge of the Swedish government's state of readiness for an emergency...did I know there was such a policy? If not, did I know where to find out about it?
What do you mean? I asked. Like if the infrastructure of society shut down in the wake of a disaster...how long would I, and my family, be able to manage? Without electricity, without power, without water, without food. I have no idea, I answered. Did I know what the Swedish government's recommendations for survival were in the event of a national emergency? No, I said. A week? A month?
What I really wanted to ask was, why? Are they expecting one? A disaster so enormous that my family and I would need to be able to survive for an unspecified length of time. Like a hurricane in Texas? In the Caribbean? In Florida?
I suppose if we lived in a place where such occurrences were a fairly frequent reality, I would be better equipped, or at least more knowledgeable, in how to deal with them. Maybe I'd be more of a gardener, prepared with my own vegetable patch. Maybe we'd have a well for fresh water. Maybe we'd have a storage room stacked with rolls of toilet paper and bottled water. I don't think I'd want to live in a place where I had to be worried at least once a year that my home and belongings and life might be irreparably destroyed by a natural disaster that I knew in advance was a consequence of living there.
Even though I lived in the Midwest for a great part of my early life, where tornadoes are something you just live with, it was always something that happened to someone else. Is that how people who live in the path of hurricanes feel? Even though, year after year, they are proven wrong? It doesn't just happen to someone else, in far-off Bangladesh or St. Thomas or Cuba, wherever. It happens to them.
I have friends and family in Florida and all along the east coast of the US. Every year, I worry about them in the wake of that year's slew of storms and hurricanes. Just because I made the (oblivious) decision to live in mostly-natural-disaster-free Sweden, it doesn't excuse me from worrying and empathizing with the rest of the world when disaster strikes elsewhere. And, I mean, realistically speaking, how long WOULD I and my family survive without the infrastructure of society holding us up? Probably not very long. My husband is super-handy but even he can't make food out of nothing and growing our own would take preparation and time we probably wouldn't have. And I'm a graphic designer, for crying out loud. Not exactly survivalist material. I'd be Darwin-awarded in a minimal amount of time, I'm sure.
It's supposed to be partly sunny tomorrow. I sure hope so. A little ray of warmth and brightness could really help lighten the mood!