If you have been watching the news you should have seen the devastation that poured through my hometown and all surrounding towns this past weekend. Yes, Northeastern Pennsylvania watched in horror as the floods swept away homes (my sister-in-law’s was one of them), flooded streets and brought people to their knees. Our bridges were closed. We had curfews. I myself sat on the only open bridge for an hour and a half trying to make it home to my family. I felt as if I was on the set of a movie. It was surreal. It was inspiring?
As I watched the news something the reporter said initially struck me as odd. She was talking about how people just couldn’t help but go out and see what was happening. “It was like viewing a car wreck,” she said. “You know you shouldn’t look but you just can’t help it”. She then went on to say a situation like this was inspiring. Inspiring? At first I felt a little offended (I know the writer in me should have immediately knew what she meant) but because everything was so close to home (Literally. The only thing that saved my street was a makeshift dike built out of dirt by a bunch of heroes) I didn’t like that she used that word. To me, inspiring meant beauty. The word itself even sounds pretty. It couldn’t relate to something horrible, or could it? Of course it can.
As I thought about her broadcast my flooded mind receded and my thoughts became clearer. I began to understand exactly what she meant. Something horrible can be inspiring. Devastation like the one my town recently endured inspired many things. It inspired communities to rally together to help save homes. It inspired newspapers to share heartbreaking stories. It inspired photographers to snap photos so we can remember and others will be able to see history. It inspired me to write this blog.
Writers don’t only write about sunny days and perfect lives. If you want to write about the human experience you have to be able to be inspired by things not so pretty. How boring would books be if there was never sorrow or obstacles to overcome?
Because we observe unhappy situations and then later write about them does not mean that we are freaks or disaster lovers, it simply means that we are interested in writing about life experiences. I am not happy that the flood happened. It saddens me that so many people I know had to suffer. I don’t find joy in writing about their pain but in a strange way I do feel inspired.
Have you ever been inspired by an unfortunate event?