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Value in Disaster

10 May

In 1914 Thomas Edison’s factory in West Orange, New Jersey, was destroyed by fire. Everything was gone. The building was made mostly of concrete, and nobody thought it could burn so it was insured for a small fraction of the loss. The day after the fire, Mr. Edison went to survey the damage. As he stood there seeing the complete destruction, he said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” What an amazing man! What an incredible attitude! Someone else may have only seen the loss, but he saw the potential of starting again. What an great example.

We all suffer disasters of varying degrees in our lives. Some are enormous, and hard to face, and others are less destructive. Some wreck our belongings, as well as, our spirits. We may face devastating situations that take years to overcome, or we may have problems that seem disastrous at first but turn out to be workable. Whatever we face, our attitude decides how we will go forward. If we believe the situation is insurmountable, too horrible to face, and we hide from it, it may consume our lives. However, if we, like Mr. Edison, look at the other side of the coin, that it’s horrible now, but it’s also the beginning of something new, it will be easier for us to navigate it.

When we suffer through tragedies and disasters, our lives are changed permanently. We can never go back to how we were before the event happened. What was before is gone. We have to face a new reality. It may not be easy to face, but whether we face it or not, it’s still where we are. So, the best we can do is accept it, decide what we need to do to go forward, and direct our lives to accommodate the change. It’s easy to say these things, it’s easy to think about them, what isn’t easy, is to do them. But we have sufficient courage inside us, and we can handle the changes in our lives, no matter what they are.

This life has its pack of trials. People die, storms ravage, fires burn, floods invade, wars happen, and we all have our share of sorrow, and grief. In those horrible moments, we may feel that we can’t go on. We can’t face our lives now, they are too difficult. But a day goes by, and despite our intense unhappiness, we actually live through it. Then another day goes by. Then a month passes, and as it does, we being to heal. We can, with patience, and time face whatever comes to us. Some days perhaps the best we can do is just breathe in and out, and that is sufficient.

If we can try to think like Mr. Edison did when he faced utter destruction, and see a new beginning instead of just an ending, we will face our trials with more confidence, and peace. Remember that each end is the start of something new. Turn the page. It’s a new day.

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