30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 21: Be Prepared

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“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

-George Washington

I had a bizarre weekend. Friday night, it stormed so badly I had to camp out in my basement. Just when I thought I’d lie down there and watch a few episodes of What Not to Wear on my DVR, the power went out. Lightning flashed like paparazzi bulbs. Thunder reverberated through the house. As the remnants of the 100-degree day settled in, I hoped the power would return in the morning. It didn’t.

The next day was beautiful–perfect cerulean sky, crisp morning air–but the damage was widespread. While we only ended up with a few branches in the driveway, many of our neighbors’ trees had fallen. A power line sat in the middle of the main street. Traffic lights were blacked out, meaning that drivers had to use their judgment. That was definitely not a pretty sight, considering that some drivers don’t know what “complete stop” means. Gas stations had lines around the block as if they were giving away iPads, and some inconsiderate folks took to jumping the queues, angering patrons to the point of threats and curses. Businesses were dark. The suburbs looked like something out of a dystopian novel. It was a mess.

While I was luckily able to drive to my sister’s fully powered house (after waiting 30 minutes for gas), I realized something: We are not prepared for emergencies. We’re so used to living in our comfortable, electrified bubble that the slightest glitch can incite pandemonium. What will we do when the real drama begins? A lost Internet connection is the least of our worries.

Thankfully, our power was only out for less than 36 hours. But things could have been much, much worse. At least two elderly women were killed from falling trees while sleeping. Another man was electrocuted. Businesses continue to lose money, and some people won’t have power for days. It was a very sad weekend that taught me a valuable lesson: We need to be ready for anything. While we can’t prepare for every single crisis, we can have a general back-up plan to serve us when life, as it inevitably does, goes awry. You don’t know always when the storm will come. But even when the sky is clear, you’ve got to be ready for the lights to go out.

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