How Challenges Bond People


“It was not something you could call friendship; it was at once less and more. The sharing of such experiences created a bond and set them apart from all others."Anne Perry

I was on an airport shuttle bus just after the Northridge earthquake in Southern California, and someone asked the driver if he "felt" the quake.

He laughed and then launched into a dramatic story about his nightmare experience.  I don't recall the specifics well, but there was a fallen wall, a gas leak, and some kind of rescue.

Every passenger was enraptured.

At the time, I remember thinking how most days people wouldn't have noticed this guy at all.  Usually people are in a hurry and don't have any obvious links with strangers. But after an earthquake, everyone's stories are interesting.

That's the funny thing about disasters, or any kind of shared experience - people connect in simple and often profound ways.  Hierarchy and social rank disappear.  We see people with fresh eyes, in all of their humanity, and we come together.  This happened on 9/11, during Hurricane Sandy, and after every tornado.

In a similar way, this week the bonds are forming in the South with the craziness of a minor snow event and a major transportation debacle.  People are telling stories about their ordeals on the road and about "angels" who kept them safe.  They are offering rides to strangers (and strangers are taking them!), pulling neighbors out of ditches, and ignoring the raucous kids sledding down the street.

On Monday I wrote about welcoming challenges (remember?) and my resolve in saying "hello!" has been pushed.  However, the silver lining of the  inconvenience this week IS growth.  Specifically, I think about what's happened to my relationships over the past 24 hours.

I have met new people, grown my friendship with neighbors, and had some great sled runs with the kids. I developed an even stronger appreciation for my husband in general and for his ability to make me laugh in particular. I have been encouraged by those who are sharing their homes and their stories.

Not a bad day after all.

How about you?  How does this week of bonding compare to last?  Have the "challenges" made you grow?