Our own fortunate circumstances.

Our own fortunate circumstances.

I have been reading a book about philosophy. In it, the author refers to a different writer called Alasdair MacIntyre who stated that humans are storytelling beings. He also said that the question of our own existence can only be answered by thinking about our past and all the stories that we can find ourselves a part of. All of that got me thinking of every memory that I've been writing about and the transcendence of them in my future. Last week in particular was full of experiences that made me meditate about many things that we usually take for granted –- life itself and our own fortunate circumstances.

 

First, I had the opportunity to visit the Arlington National Cemetery — a place so beautiful and calm that it is worthy of the hundreds of tombs where people now rest. Within are the remains of many whose lives were very relevant to American history, surrounded with a peaceful and respectful environment that celebrate their memory.

 

Hector and friends at the Arlington amphitheater.

 

Arlington National Cemetery on an autumn afternoon.

 

Inside, there is a particular spot that I really liked. There is a tomb that has never been officially named — engraved in a marble square, the commemoration of the life of an American soldier, known only to God.

 

There, a sentinel stands walking from side to side of the mat settled right in front of the tomb. The soldier “walking the mat” follows a rigorous routine until the guard is changed every hour. That ceremony is also very solemn so everyone is asked to stand up and keep silent while a different sentinel takes over the guard and starts its own 21-step routine back-and-forth to honor the unnamed soldier. It is really impressive.

 

The Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

Frankenstorm.

A satellite view of the storm that struck the east coast last week.

 

Also, last week there was a catastrophic natural event that made me ponder about those less fortunate — Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States affecting millions of people with its strength. It was one of the biggest storms ever registered in the history of this country and we could only wait defenseless while watching the weather forecast and, right in the red spot of its core, the name of our city, Washington, D.C.

 

Everybody got prepared for such an emergency and bought many supplies foreseeing that stores may be closed and that energy shutdowns could occur. And then, it was just a matter of time for it to hit the coast.

 

In the end, the storm changed its course and reduced its strength so Washington, D.C. was hardly affected in comparison with many different states that are now underwater with massive destruction on its streets.

 

A brave cyclist endures high winds on Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

It really makes you think about all those people who watched, helplessly, as all their possessions were flushed away. It's amazing to witness firsthand how the American community and countries all around the world sympathized with them and mobilized human and economic resources to come in their aid.

 

I guess that experiences here have not only been those regarding touristic and entertaining activities, but more about a taste of a community that has periods of prosperity but also of big catastrophe and the way they deal with them. Let's just hope that all the victims of this super storm can recover as quickly as possible from such a destructive force.

 

Finally, if there was a lesson one could get from everything that have happened recently, would be that there should always be times of recollection and meditation of our own circumstances so we can learn to value how lucky we are and be grateful for everything we've received.

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