“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds”.
~ Norman Vincent Peale
Hurricane Dorian is currently about 50 miles off the eastern coast of Florida, crawling along slowly. This brings something that we humans are not used to, uncertainty. We usually believe that we have most situations, other than disease, death and others, under control. We try to plan for most eventualities, have emergency funds, backup systems, etc. But when events do not go according to this plan, we basically have three options.
One option is to confront situation head on and proactively. In case of hurricane, we gather our troops closely, buy water and canned goods, fill up car with gas, put up shutters, etc. This means staying to experience the hurricane, and to be without electricity, water, food, for some time. I have experienced this during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and again during Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Experiencing a Miami summer without AC is definitely not pleasant or recommendable! I remember counting the hours until the sun would set, so temperature would cool down a bit, and so then we could huddle around candles and play cards or listen to battery powered radio. You later tell yourself this is making you stronger, but at the time, you wish it to be over IMMEDIATELY.
A second option is to leave and avoid any strife. I chose this option in 2017 when Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, was heading straight to Miami. I reached this decision after thinking of the days without AC and electricity, and especially of the devastation it caused in Puerto Rico. This was not easy because it meant leaving my dad and siblings, who had decided to stay. So on one hand you have peace of mind because you will be OK, but you also experience guilt because those close to you are not there. So it’s not complete peace of mind, because you keep asking yourself when does your responsibility to others end and the responsibility to yourself begins? Thankfully, the storm did not hit Miami head on and we were more fortunate than our Caribbean neighbors.
A third option is to do nothing. This was basically my family’s strategy during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I was a teenager, but I don’t remember buying enough supplies or boarding the house. I do remember huddling in one internal hallway of the house we were renting at the time, and hearing the hurricane growling outside. I felt the windows and roof shaking, and feeling they could blow up at any moment. That was one of the most frightening experiences ever! In our defense, early 90’s technology, communication and hurricane knowledge were not as advanced as they are now. Although we survived unscathed, other than losing electricity, our neighbors to the south in Homestead suffered for many weeks and even months, and many lost their homes for good.
However we have reacted to these Mother Nature problems in the past is how we tend to approach life’s problems. Some people tend to face situations head on, prepare well, communicate the plan to all within their group, and stay the course. If we all understand that we have done our best in any given situation, meaning we had good intentions, created a reasonable plan, and then followed through, our results should closely match our original plan. If we tend to leave when life becomes too difficult, and leaving could be physically, mentally or emotionally, instead of confronting the root issue, we will never grow as humans and will be unable to face future problems alone. In the same manner, if we don’t do anything, and expect a situation to “magically disappear”, which may happen sometimes, but most likely, it will reappear later in a stronger way. Then it may become an unmanageable problem.
By the way, I am not suggesting that life’s problems have one single approach. Life is much more complex and we may never find out if we made the correct choice until years later. Sometimes the correct approach may be to leave, sometimes it may be to do nothing, or even a combination of approaches. However, we should reflect on how we personally behaved in the past and try to notice if there is a pattern to our behavior and how we have handled problems. We have no control on how others act, but we can definitely monitor and have intentions for our own behaviors, and with resilience and patience, we can grow as decision makers. Take a look at your personal “Dorian” and make a decision today.