If you play sport then one day you will achieve your lifetime personal best.
You will catch a 3 kg bream, swim 400m in 5 minutes, make 122 not out on a green wicket or score 34 goals in the season. Every sporty person has their personal best, the one they talk about modestly to their grandkids and boast about after a few beers with mates.
It is also true that in your lifetime you will witness your hottest, wettest and coldest day, and your biggest storm.
Now that most of us go beyond the three score years and 10, there are upwards of 25,000 days for us to experience extremes.
Hurricane Sandy was devastating, as was Katrina, events that should only occur once in a lifetime and preferably not at all.
Sandy was a confluence of events, each one quite severe but devastating together, yet it happened. And we know that that equally perfect storm has happened before in previous lifetimes and will again in our children’s lifetime.
Even events that skip a generation or two and occur on average every 100 years are possible. The rank amateur can fluke a hole in one and have his day.
Given time Sandy will be followed by Samantha, Sybil and Susan. And she was preceded by literally thousands of equally severe storms in times past witnessed by settlers, indigenous peoples and before them, various species of now extinct megafauna.
The difference was there were no subways to flood, houses on wooden piers to collapse and substations to explode.
If we understood this fully then we would not blame Sandy or her sisters even if climate change means they happen more often that they did before.
We would realize what we have changed. We are present to witness and put flimsy things in the way of the storms.
We happen to be around for that meteorological PB.
After Katrina, and again after Sandy, there was much courageous talk of rebuilding clearing up and starting it over — inspiring stuff from leaders who know how to tap into the spirit humans have that makes them feel good even in hard times.
So the flooding will be drained and cleared up, the millions of dead rats ground up for fertilizer, the house rebuilt in readiness for Samantha and Shona. Although I suspect not built with too much more care than before.
This is what humans do. It is as innate as any cravings for salt and sugar. We will get to work, repeat what we did before and complain that it wasn’t our fault. So be it, it is our endless love affair with risk and opportunity
Some families will witness tragedy and have to mourn the loss of loved ones and of property, but society will shake off Sandy, even use her as a motivator and fiscal stimulus.
And later, remember her as that once in a lifetime storm.