Seriously, I think I'm probably the only person in a landlocked state with no friends, relatives or financial interests along the coast who monitors the National Hurricane Center on a regular basis, just to find out if I'm gonna get to watch storm coverage any time soon!
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I wish pain and suffering on anyone, there's just something about mother nature rearing up and stating in no uncertain terms that she is in charge, that I find irresistibly compelling.
And it's not just real life events either, I'm a total sucker for disaster movies... I just love them. It doesn't really matter how improbable the plot, or how terrible the acting or special effects, I simply can't help myself!
Of course disaster movies offer the added benefit that the evil bad guys who offended mother earth in the first place are always punished. I just love how the intrepid scientist always manages to survive by the skin of his teeth, while the money grubbing bad guy gets swallowed up by the volcano or whatever the disaster du jour might be.
As you might expect, my love for all things disaster extends to post-apocalyptic dystopian films as well. Recently Netflix (which has obviously got me pegged) suggested that I might enjoy the TV drama "Revolution" where some sort of man made calamity has caused the rules of physics to be turned on their heads and all electricity has ceased to function.
Never mind the fact that the entire premise is utterly ridiculous - human bodies, after all, rely on electrical processes to function - I fear I am totally addicted to this show. It's sorta like a disaster that just keeps coming.
Speaking of disasters that just keep coming, you may have heard on the news that my fair state has been suffering with some of the worst flooding in its history. While conditions in my neighborhood are unremarkable (I was just thankful to get some rain on the garden) folks to the north and east of here are completely inundated.
I have to say that I'm completely exhausted just from watching the round the clock coverage of the disaster. The area north of Denver received an amazing amount of rainfall - over 18 inches in some places - which is more than we usually get in an entire year! Most of the water fell in the foothills, causing dangerous situations in the mountain towns and canyons.
Of course now, the bulk of the water has flowed into the South Platte river swamping towns on the plains to our east.
The damage is rather incredible, with a vast number of roads, bridges and railroad lines taken out, not to mention the loss of property, farmland and life. There are numerous towns and areas that are completely cut off, and the National Guard has been shuttling people out by helicopter because thousands of folks are isolated by the damage to the infrastructure.
So, the obvious suffering here really causes me to wonder... what's with me? Why am I so attracted to this sort of thing? Do I have some sort of a death wish? Am I a mean spirited person who actually enjoys watching other people suffer?
You know, when it comes right down to it, I think it's this: When these sorts of disasters happen, all of the form over substance bullshit that so consumes this society just seems to melt away, and suddenly people become much more human.
It's like people come out of their collective fog for a brief moment, and suddenly remember what life is supposed to be about.
We suddenly realize that the purpose of a house is to provide shelter, not to show off how wealthy you are... that clothing is important because it protects your body from the elements, not because it's "cute" or "fashionable"... that telephones are for communicating, not playing endless hours of Candy Crush... that food is designed to nourish our bodies, it's not simply for a quick sugar buzz... and that we are all inevitably bound together by forces that are so much larger than anything we can conjure up.
Of course, none of it will last. Pretty soon life will return to "normal". The news will stop being a place where people turn to get vital information, and go back to being a place where we report on the release of the latest iPhone, or the antics of some stupid celebrity, or god knows what other idiocy.
We'll forget that our government and public officials work tirelessly day in and day out to provided us with infrastructure and services that we are completely dependent on, but which most of us simply take for granted.
People will stop helping each other, and we'll be back to the social climbing, backstabbing, divisive vitriol that we're all so used to.
But for the moment I think I'm just gonna send up a little prayer for the folks in peril, and rejoice in the fact that sanity and compassion have made a brief comeback.