One Stormy Night


I awakened this morning to the sound of music. Looking at the clock, I discovered it was only 3:00 a.m. Was I really hearing music or was it all in my head? No, I heard it loudly. It was the clap of thunder followed by traces of lightening perforating the darkness of our bedroom. For a moment there was only the sound of silence. The music had stopped. The silence was then followed by a long interval of rolling thunder. When the sound ended, there was another vivid imagine of light perforating the darkness of the room.

My first inclination was to open the shutters. We obviously were in the midst of what might be described as one stormy night. Coincidently, “One Stormy Night” was the name of the music album I was hearing in my head. The album was a recording by the Mystic Moods Orchestra. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t opt to open the shutters. I am a slow learner, but I knew better than that. In the unlikely event the light perforating the room would have been responsible for awakening the General, it would have indeed doubly been one stormy night.

For the next few minutes I allowed myself to go back in time. I thought about Marlene. She was the registered nurse in charge of the 3-11 shift in the emergency room of Hendrick Hospital in Abilene. I worked there as an orderly. I have to confess it was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever worked. I guess my nightly “second-hand” exposure to life threatening trauma was an ongoing catalyst reminding me not to take my good health for granted.

I know. I know. You don’t have to tell me. You’re thinking: “I’m talking out of my head. First I’m hearing the sound of music and then abruptly changing the subject to second-hand life threatening trauma”. So what do the two have in common? The common denominator is Marlene.

Following the death of her parents, Marlene apparently had extra money to spend. Consequently, she decided to orchestrate an extreme makeover of the small home where she and her son lived. Brent was probably only eight or nine years old at the time. Strange isn’t it, how the dimensions of time can change one’s perspective. In real-life-time today, Brent probably is in the neighborhood of fifty-seven or fifty-eight. Broadly speaking, that would place the two of us in some proximity of being in the same peer group. Back then, Brent and I were light years apart in ages. After all, at the age of twenty, I was a grown-up (Yeah!- Right?).

At any rate, Marlene asked if I’d help her replace the wallpaper in her kitchen. She also needed assistance repainting her home. Truthfully, I had no experience doing either, but I was a quick learner. The experience was fun. Across the past five decades I used that newly developed skill set (learned at the age of twenty) to my advantage. How many houses have I wall papered? The answer is probably more than you would believe.

Shortly after Treva and I got married, Marlene replaced the furniture in her living room. She opted to furnish her home with a completely new look. One of the first things she bought was a large Mediterranean style entertainment center. She asked if we’d like to have her old traditional “hard rock maple” entertainment center? It included both a television and stereo. We were delighted!

By now, you’re probably following my train of thought. That hand-me-down home entertainment center was often used to generate the sound of “one stormy night” played by the Mystic Moods Orchestra. It was the same music I awakened to this morning.

As I thought about Marlene this morning, I momentarily questioned her taste in furniture. Why would anyone want Mediterranean style furniture? (If I just offended you, please accept my apology). Mediterranean style furniture obviously was a trending fad at the time. Yet, isn’t it true? In contrast, “hard rock maple” is timeless. The General and I parted with the hand-me-down home entertainment center years ago, but we still have the coffee table we purchased to go in the living room with the television/stereo system we were given. It, too, is made out of “hard rock maple”.

By 3:30 a.m., I was still awake. My thoughts then drifted to the concept of random thought and the triggers that motivate us to focus on one thing or another. I thought about any number of people that I know who are constantly subjected to the soundtrack of one stormy night. Yet their responses to the soundtrack playing in their heads leave them in a constant state of crisis.

How many people do you know who are always waiting for the other shoe to drop? The whole tenor of their approach to life is Murphy’s Law. If things can go wrong, inevitably they will. In case you’re wondering about the expression “waiting for the other shoe to drop”, I have an answer for you. The expression is a carry-over from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Apartments in large cities were built in similar designs. Bedrooms in apartments were located directly above and underneath another. Consequently, it was normal to hear a neighbor removing their shoes in the apartment above. As one shoe made a sound hitting the floor, the expectation for the other shoe to make a similar sound was created.

The soundtrack of “one stormy night” playing over and over in my head in the early morning hours was a contrast to the safety and security of being inside out of harms way. The rolling sound of thunder and the splashes of lightning don’t have to activate the “fight or flight” response in our minds.

The sounds of “one stormy night” don’t automatically have to prompt the thoughts of imminent peril, harmful events or threats to our survival. Isn’t it true that the majority of things we worry about never come to pass? Consequently, why not focus on the safety and security of being safely inside and out of harms way?  The other shoe doesn’t have to drop.

All My Best!




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