1 - We don’t do things until we’re truly forced to. This might seem self-evident but we should all own a flashlight by now. We should all have batteries for that flashlight. But you’d have a better chance at finding a kidney on Monday than batteries. This notion got me thinking about why change is so hard. I remembered the quote, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.”
Habits change because an input is modified. That input is adjusted for one of two reasons or a combination of both:
a) external factors; i.e. the storm of the century, getting fired, having a heart attack
b) internal choices; i.e. setting an alarm, writing 30 minutes a day, taking a walk instead of smoking a cigerette
The problem is, we too often wait for the outside factors to jar us on a new course, when instead, our internal choices could slowly steer us in a new direction.
2 - Our resolve to help each other is a formidable power. I was in awe out the outpouring of help that I saw and heard in New York City. For the heat that this city gets for being filled with self-centered and cold-hearted people, I can honestly say that that is bullshit. Period. New Yorkers are some of the most caring, albeit direct, group of people you’ll ever meet. I’m not saying that other cities are any less caring or that any other culture wouldn’t do the same but what I witnessed and read about was superlative acts of community and it was a resounding example that together, we’re better.
Additionally, the outpouring of public help and well wishes from people not near the storm was just as impressive.
3 - On some level, we like surviving the worst because of what it says about us. We like to be tested. For those of us who have it all, relatively speaking, we like the romantic idea of being tested because of what it might say about our character. We’d like to know what we’d really do in a life or death situation. We don’t necessarily want those situations, but part of us yearns to know what we would do in them. We want to know that we would excel, that we would make it through.
But when that something does happen or is close to happening, all we want to be is as far away from it as possible.
4 - Thank you science, and the people that bring its benefits to us. Meteorology reports, 311, 911, text alerts, Twitter updates, Facebook check-ins. It horrifies me to think what it must have been like back in the day (or in less fortunate societies) when you just had to react to whatever the weather did as it happened. It was remarkable and humbling to see nature flaunt its prowess while at the same time, watching mankind use all his tools to prepare for and to, ahem, weather the storm.* **
*I am aware that there are still millions without power and I’m not understating the fact that people did lose their homes and their lives in some cases but for a storm that passed over roughly 60 million people, it is scary to think how many more could have been hurt.
**I am also aware that it’s likely that modern science’s by-products (rising CO2 emissions, rising temperatures) were a factor in the size and severity of the storm but I’m focusing on the positives here.
5 - Conversely, the more connected we are, the more noise there is. Was Coney Island Hospital on fire? Were the FDNY unable to get there? It seemed like you could retweet or report anything and the social media chain reaction would give it a life of itself as long as what was said was plausible.
We have an undying need to be the first to share or know about news. Society values those in-the-know so we like being connectors. But unfortunately, in times of chaos, it’s not easy for everyone to sift through the truth and the noise.
I’m guessing this part of the reason we all got an alert action message on our phones at 10PM on Monday night that said, “911 is for EMERGENCIES ONLY”.
6 - We are all the center of our own universes whether we like it or not. And this is especially so at times of crises. Because now life goes on for me in Brooklyn with power, food, restaurants and Internet while 2 miles from me on Manhattan, there are thousands of people without power, without heat, and their homes flooded for what may be up to a week.
That is a strange and almost guilt-ridden feeling.
7 - The lower the pressure, the stronger the hurricane. 940mb I hear is quite low for a Category 1 hurricane. We are now all millibar and air pressure experts. My response to anyone telling me that a hurricane is coming will be: Oh really? A hurricane is coming towards you? I don’t care what category it is, what is the millibar level and is it rising or falling?
What did you learn from the storm?
If you’d like to help those affected most by the storm, you can text REDCROSS to ‘90999’ to automatically donate $10 to the Sandy Relief Efforts, or visit www.redcross.org for more info.
On this Halloween, while we dress up and pretend we’re someone or something else, take a minute to tell someone you love how much you care about them. Let Hurricane Sandy be a reminder that “life happens” outside of our control all the time. Appreciate your health, be thankful for what you have, smile at the next person you see, and tell someone dear to you that you give a damn about them.