Friday, February 18, 2011

Prepare for the Expected

Last week in North Texas we found ourselves dealing with weather related school closings, battling icy roadways, and trying to stay warm despite single digit temperatures. Today, I have no heat on, the windows are all wide open, the house plants are on the back patio basking in the sunshine and eighty one degree temperatures. You often here people around here say, “only in Texas,” when referring to these drastic weather changes. I will not argue that here it is possible to experience the weather of all four seasons in a single week, sometimes even within a much smaller time span, and that these changes are often rather dramatic, maybe even more so than in other geographic locations, but the truth of the matter is drastic and dramatic changes happen everywhere and all the time. I’m not sure why we all seem so surprised when these extremes are manifested in our weather patterns.

Often in life such extremes occur in a matter of a mere second – birth and death, the transition from child, in legal terms, to adult, single to married and vice versa. I still remember the morning that I left for school married, again in legal terms, and about halfway through the morning was struck with the realization that after twenty-six years of being married, I was now again single.

With the present state of the economy, many people these days wake up as gainfully employed citizens and by the end of the day are jobless. On the flip side, there are also those who get up in the morning wondering how they are going to pay their rent or buy groceries this month and suddenly find themselves millionaires after winning it big in the lottery. I could go on here, but you get the idea; for every condition and state of being, there exist extremes on a continuum. In most instances, we live our lives somewhere near the middle of these extremes. This is known as balance.

I suspect that at some point in each of our lives someone has said, “you need to be prepared for the unexpected.” Translation; “You need to be prepared in case someone or something throws you off balance. On the surface this sounds like good advice, but is there really any such thing as “the unexpected”?

Anyone who does not expect that things – whether it be the weather, state of health or marital or financial status – can and probably will change at some point in their lives in not only woefully unprepared but is delusional.

Society tends to think of “the unexpected” as some catastrophic event. Reality check. Catastrophic events happen every day. Automobile accidents, home fires, school shootings, severe weather phenomena, deaths; they happen every day. Maybe not to you or me today, but they could. Would we not be better advised to prepare for the expected? Are we not better off if we have prepared for the “worse-case scenario” and never have to rely on those action plans rather than find ourselves in the place of never having considered them and suddenly finding ourselves in a place whose existence we have never acknowledged?

I am not suggesting that we breed a culture of pessimism; however, I do think that we need to admit that we live in a society where, for whatever reason, people are faced with difficult and painful circumstances every day. A vigilant awareness of this reality will help us to be better prepared should we find ourselves in such a situation as well as better prepared to give aid and comfort to others whose lives are disrupted.

And just in case you are wondering, I have not had a bad day. In fact, I have had a wonderful day. It is 81 degrees and I learned how to send a 100 foot snake down a pipe. Was that what I expected to do today? Not exactly. But, I know that pipes sometimes clog up and that it can happen here just as easily as it can happen at your house. (If it does, call me. I now know how to snake a pipe.)

As I have progressed through this post I have been thinking about how I am going to get myself out of this discussion. I think that means that I have been trying to figure out exactly what the point of all this is. As circumstance would have it, the following quote just came to me in a forwarded email, which, by the way, has nothing to do with anything that I have said here, but I think is nonetheless an appropriate closing to my present thoughts.

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be; it's the way it is. The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.