It is very unfortunate but mother nature reminds us of our fragility from time to time. In September 2017, Greater Houston, the 4th largest city in the United Sates with almost 7 million habitants, was devastated with floods. We have been trapped in our homes with many roads closed and we have witnessed through news, text messages, phone calls and social media how less fortunate friends have been evacuated from their flooded homes.
These events are always game-changers, the rules of the game change and our priorities shift. The way we play life is transformed for a few days and we are different. Have you reflected on the thoughts and actions that have changed in you because of this?
Here are some ideas of what happened to me, maybe you can relate and they can serve as pointers for your own reflections:
- Family First. We might neglect our families because we work too much and are not good at life-work balance. But when an event like this strikes our attention immediately goes to our loved ones. Are we all safe? Are we all accounted for? Are we prepared? Are those traveling going to make it to their destinations? I think it is a good reminder to realize that priority number one is always dictated by our heart and it is about the people we love the most.
- Our life in a bag. When considering the problem might escalate or for those evacuating, the key priorities are identity and information. As it being stricken by sudden enlightenment we realize that all material possessions are secondary to preserving life and that the only things that we can take with us other than our clothes, are maybe our identities (passport, IDs, etc.) and sometimes information (thank you to technology for digital files and pictures, our life is in a computer).
- Relationships. Once we are safe and ready we start thinking about our extended family and friends. First we want to check on those that might have been experiencing similar or worse situations. Are they ok? Do they need help? Then we think about those that love us who might be getting news and becoming concerned, we start letting people know we are ok. Do we really need to wait for mother nature? Or can we reach out from time to time to friends and ask them are you ok? Do you need help?
- Contribution. As we are surviving the disaster or recovering from it, life cannot be the same. We are concerned for others and we experience a rare burst of altruism and social responsibility that we don’t always have. How can I help? Can I volunteer some time? Can I donate something? Can I contribute with money? Suddenly our concern for others gets a new position in our priority list.
These were the new rules, the things that my heart and mind quickly redefine as priorities. I guess my reflection is can we keep them? Can we apply the same set of rules to the “normal” day to day?
- Don’t wait to dedicate time and attention to your family.
- Find the value behind your goals; it is not about material things, what are they getting you that is more important? (and sometimes easier to reach).
- Keep nurturing your relationships. Reach out to family and friends, check on them.
- Help. There is always someone that will benefit from your knowledge, from your time, from your touch.
To all the victims of Harvey in the Houston area, and Irma and Maria in the Caribbean my best wishes for a quick recovery, may life bring you happiness and its sources and may you get rid of suffering and its causes.