Lessons learned in the face of a Hurricane

If you live in an area that could be hit by a hurricane, then you know warnings of the threat of a potential hurricane begin as early as five or six days prior to its making landfall.  Staying tuned to the weather channel, the uncertainty of where the hurricane will hit, and the chaotic behavior of those around you as water and gas become scarce can leave you feeling anxious and scared. 

You find yourself constantly agonizing: Is the hurricane coming this way or not? Do I leave town or do I stay? How much water and food will I need? What kind of food do I buy? Is my house safe? What will I lose? What are my loved ones going to do? 

What’s worse is that oftentimes we are forced to make decisions before knowing whether the hurricane is going to hit us or not — because if we wait — the hotels, flights, gas stations, and supermarkets will be sold out or empty. 

But despite the chaos, the fear, and the constant distractions, these uncertain times have a way of teaching us lessons.

Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years in the face of hurricanes:

Control

We don’t have control over how things are going to turn out. The only thing we can control is the decisions we make with the information we’ve been given. When we are faced with choices and options that can lead us down different paths, the uncertainty can cause more pain than the path. Weigh your options, make a calculated decision, take action, and have faith that things will work out. Trust in yourself. 

Fear

The only real fear in life is the loss of it. Other fears are often fabricated or exaggerated in our minds. But when one is in a life-threatening situation, things that seemed overwhelming in the past become trivial. If we could somehow bottle that wisdom up and open it in times of stress, we would eliminate most of the unnecessary fear we place on ourselves.

Time

Material things don’t matter — time does. The time we have is our most prized possession and sometimes it takes the Universe to force us to STOP the grind and just be present in the moment. Even if that moment is a bad one, it pulls us together and brings out the best in us. These moments create the space to value the time we spend with our family and the importance of enjoying life while we can.

Community

Community matters. Surround yourself with the people you love. Help each other. Stick together. Laugh and love each other. Nothing matters more than that.

Perspective

When faced with disasters in our lives or the threat of them, the one gift we can always take advantage of us is perspective. In these moments we are forced to decide what we’re made of and what we truly value. A couple of years ago, when Hurricane Irma was heading straight toward us, I had a liberating realization. I’d been agonizing for years over what to do with some of my late father’s material possessions until they were all at risk of being lost in that hurricane. Suddenly, I didn’t care at all if I lost all those things. All I cared about was my family’s safety. I realized that those “things” weren’t my dad, they were just things. I understood that everything I need to hold on to I carry with me, in my heart and mind — no hurricane can take that away from me. Long after the hurricane was over, that perspective stayed with me and allowed me to get rid of the clutter I couldn’t get rid of before. 

A Moment of Clarity

If you are facing a hurricane in your life, remember that no matter how much destruction, pain, or chaos it’s causing — you can always find the lessons. It is in those lessons you’ll find that you are stronger, wiser, and more resilient than you ever thought you could be.