The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Mike Pound

June 4, 2011

Mike Pound: Joplin needs tornado-trauma break

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s time to take a breath.

It’s time to step back and shut ’er down for a few minutes.

I’m not sure I feel like returning to full “my wife thinks I’m a moron” mode in this column yet, but I’m through moping around.

I’m taking a break.

Friday afternoon, I was chatting with Mary Schultz. Mary is the chairwoman of the Church and Society Committee at Peace Lutheran Church. I was talking to Mary because, even though her church was wrecked in the May 22 tornado, its members are going ahead with a planned fundraiser for Joplin NALA.

I thought that was something.

While we were talking, Mary made an interesting point. She said that folks around here have pretty much been working nonstop since the tornado hit. She said folks have, understandably of course, been consumed by the storm and the devastation it wreaked. She worries, she said, that the stress and strain on folks might eventually take its toll.

“My hope is people start to realize a body can only take so much,” she said. “This (recovery from the storm) is a marathon and you can’t run a marathon for months and months. I hope people know that it’s OK to slow down.”

Can we all agree that Mary is a wise woman?

Look, a bunch of people have pretty much been running on adrenaline for two weeks now and that’s great. Actually it’s better than great. It’s heroic. But it’s also dangerous because, when that adrenaline tank hits empty, some folks will crash.

Let’s not allow that to happen. If you haven’t done so, take some time and take a break. It’s OK. You deserve it. We deserve it.

We are going to be dealing with the aftermath of this terrible tornado for years. We still have some dark days ahead of us. In order to get through those dark days we need to recharge our emotional and physical batteries.

We need to take a break every now and then.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken with in the past two weeks who have spoken about guilt.

They’ve felt guilty that they survived the tornado while others didn’t. They’ve felt guilty that they “only” lost their home. Or they’ve felt guilty because they didn’t lose anything.

That’s understandable, but it’s wrong. Those of us who made it through the storm have nothing to feel guilty about. To be sure, we have everything in the world to be thankful about. But we have nothing to feel guilty about.

So we shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a break. The fact is, taking a break every now and then is about the only way to ensure that we get past the mess caused by that monster that dropped out of the sky.

Today, take a minute to relax. Take a minute to hug your kid, or your spouse. Take a minute to hug yourself. You deserve it.

And, yes, take a minute to laugh. It’s time. It’s time to let your mind relax a second. Laughing is your brain’s way of taking a load off.

That reminds me of the first time Dolly Parton was on the “Tonight Show.” When she came out and stood by Johnny Carson, he said: “Sit down. Take a load off.”

That made me laugh.

A lot of things on the “Tonight Show” made me laugh. But of all the things on the “Tonight Show” that made me laugh, nothing made me laugh harder than something George Gobel said to Johnny. In fact, as a tribute to George, and whenever I need a laugh, I include his joke in this column. Here’s what George said to Johnny.

“My uncle was the town drunk (long pause).

“And we lived in Chicago.”

Take a break today.

You deserve it.

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