Hurricanes. They’re terrifying. You get the news that one is coming, and for almost a solid week, all you can think about is the impending doom swirling just miles away from your home. Your family. Your friends and all you know.
You watch the news. You watch it over again. Report after report, conflicting each other, all saying five different things about where this monster of a storm could be headed, what it could destroy and what it could leave behind in its wake.
For a few moments, you might forget. The thought of something else more important will temporarily take over your mind, and the thought of a hurricane will disappear…
Only to reappear and make you three times as tense than you were before.
It’s not like a tornado, where you get a few hours warning at best, if not a few minutes. In most other natural disasters, chaos strikes in an instant, without much warning.
Not hurricanes. Especially not Category 5 ones.
You know about hurricanes just long enough to drive you temporarily insane with the stress of knowing that, “Hey. My home might not be in existence 72 hours from now. The peaceful breezes that I feel now could turn into violent gusts that could rip the roof off my little mobile home and ruin all we have inside.”
Have you prepared enough? Have you prepared too much? Do you have all the supplies? Is there one thing that you might miss that could be crucial? Where are you going to stay for shelter? Is anywhere enough shelter for 185 mph winds?
The hype of the media doesn’t help. You talk to family–hurricane. You talk to friends–hurricane. You talk to strangers–they tell you to “stay safe.” It’s all anyone can talk about.
What did Irma teach me?
What did a Category 5 monster swirling and raging toward my home teach me?
I’m glad you asked.
As cliche as it sounds, lovely Category 5 Hurricane Irma–a record-breaking, history-making storm–taught me about priorities.
Here in my articles, I talk a lot about organizing. It’s one of my passions, and I enjoy organizing my life. My stuff. My…endless number of things.
Evacuating our house for a hurricane? I couldn’t take those endless number of things with me. I couldn’t shove all my precious belongings into one box or one suitcase and carry them safely away with me.
I had to– *gulp– prioritize.
In the days and hours before the storm struck, I had to decide what was important enough to go with me…and what things had to stay behind.
I began to realize as I sorted through my things that I own a lot of junk. What really mattered?
What really mattered were the letters from my great-grandma. The set of old keys I got from my grandpa. Cards from my friends. Yearbooks with irreplaceable signatures. I began to notice a recurring theme. The most important things in my life weren’t the things that were the most expensive. Or even the things that were the oldest, or the newest.
All the things that went with me were tied to people.
It seems like such an obvious lesson, but it really hit me between the eyes as Irma whirled toward my home. You could have everything in the world, but none of it would matter in an emergency situation like a hurricane if those things weren’t tied to people and memories.
It made me stop and ask myself, what am I really valuing? What should I be investing in? What things would I still want left if everything else was taken away?
The answer is: my people. The people I care about–my friends and family. Nothing else–no other possessions, no amount of money, nothing–matters like people.
Some of us introverts would love to just crawl in a hole and avoid people for the rest of our lives. But doing that would drain our lives of its purpose, which is to impact those around us. To love them. To cherish them, the memories and moments we have with them. All of them–not even just the ones we like.
Hurricane Irma taught me to prioritize. Hurricane Irma taught me that the real priorities of life are those around us. It taught me to be grateful for those I have in my life, to be grateful that I do have things like letters and keys to keep and not just empty, meaningless items that could be replaced if disaster strikes.
Why am I telling you this? Why does it matter what Irma taught me?
It matters because, simple and ordinary as it may sound, it’s powerful. At the end of the day, it’s the people in your life that count, and I can’t repeat that enough. Maybe you’re not the type to cherish memories and be sentimental. Start. Be sentimental. Keep things that can’t be replaced, and you’ll find that your life is a lot richer and fuller than you might think.
Leave a comment–tell me if you’ve learned something from a natural disaster before. What kind of experiences have you had? I want to hear from you!
Have a great week~
◊ XO- Kristel ◊
*(By the way, we did make it through Irma safely, as you can tell, and had no damage other than some branches down in our front yard! The storm ended up only hitting our area of the state as barely even a Category 1.)