Storms Die – Lessons Live on

Hurricane Sandy created history… caused devastation on a scale that shocked the world, and in the process it depleted the U.S. by tens of billions of dollars. While we cannot undo what happened, surely there are a lot of lessons for each of us to learn even from this tragedy. Here are some of the things I learnt just from watching this gargantuan catastrophe unfold on television:

1. Mother nature has no favourites.
She can strike at any time or at any place. It does not matter if you belong to the most powerful or even the poorest nation on the planet. Japan, Indonesia, Bangladesh… India… and other countries around the world have witnessed the wrath of nature through Tsunamis, Floods, Earthquakes… When mother nature hits in all her fury… whoever is at the receiving end… has no option to negotiate, plead, or play hard ball. All we can do … is to prepare for the worst… and hope for the best.

My learning: We should be fair to everyone, and not determine our favourites based on their income group, or education or social levels.

2. Be prepared.
The U.S. is very organized… and uses the technology at its disposal to protect its people in the best way possible. After getting early warnings about how the storm would hit, and making great predictions on which places had to be evacuated, it sounded the warning loud and strong. Doing that reduced the threat to thousands of lives.

My learning: a) It is better to be prepared, than to be caught unawares. b) Even the best plans will have to face adversities and catastrophes. Lets accept those.

3. Life is our most precious possession.
Even though you know that you may have spent a lifetime creating your dream home, or buying some of your most prized possessions, when we have to leave home we may need to abandon everything and save ourselves and our family. I am sure that people who survived will agree that they can build back their homes… or buy new belongings… but had they lost their lives… then that would surely be the end.

My learning: We should love people and use things…. not the other way around.

4. We cannot plan for everything.
In spite of being rich, and wealthy, one cannot adequately prepare for every eventuality. Some things will go wrong. On a philosophical level, is this to make us understand that there may after all be a plan that is already written for us? What can we can do when we are face to face with the worst that may befall us? Is there any sense in cursing our luck? Will we feel better when we blame others for our misfortune?

My learning: Sometimes there are no exits, no guarantees, and no way out of an impending disaster. Then… let us face the worst with dignity, and accept what comes our way.

5. Nothing lasts forever.
Even the best maintained homes that were on Sandy’s storm path were hit, and suffered untold damage. So does this mean that we stop maintaining what we have because some day a storm may hit us? Not at all, at least we know that we used what we had … to the best extent possible… until the last possible moment. So in a sense, we juiced the goodness of our possessions to the max.

My learning: Even though do not know what lies ahead of us… we must make the most of what we have.

6. This too shall pass.
Even the worst storms cannot last forever. Even the worst of situations cannot be that way for long. The smarter ones among us will make moves earlier, and shorten the recovery period.

My learning: Everything has an expiry date… and so all we have to do at times is to wait for things to change.

7. Move on.
Whatever has happened has happened. Brooding about something that has already passed… however painful, will only cause more pain. Believe me… pain will not get your possessions back. Snapping out of the pain and moving ahead will help you a lot more.

My learning: Count your blessings. Appreciate what you have left, and build on that. That is the way it was meant to be.

8. Life will test even the best.
Finally.. let me say this. Everyone in a situation of loss… or grief … will see things differently. Sharing what one experienced… including the learning or the shortcuts that were learned along the way will benefit someone else.

My learning: We can learn a lot from our own experiences… but we can learn a ton from others’ experiences too.

Meanwhile… remember… that the things that go wrong… are only tests that check on our abilities to handle crises. They provide us opportunities to see how strong we are… and they clearly show us where we have to improve. Either way… we are all called to be better today… than we were yesterday.

So lets appreciate the good that we have… lets overlook the small things that go wrong.

Lets make the most of today… for tomorrow… may test us again…

Have a great life..

Ian Faria.

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