Hurricane Irma began to pass through Sarasota, Florida around 10 p.m. on September 10, 2017.
While it wasn’t the full-strength storm many had predicted, it still possessed life-threatening qualities which most Floridians took very seriously.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, with many basic necessities in modern-day life (electricity, A/C, Internet, gas) hard or impossible to come by, I’m reminded of just how fortunate and wonderful life is.
Indeed, this storm can teach us many important lessons.
Life And Health Matter More Than Money and Material Possessions
I spend a great deal of my time writing about, thinking about, and managing money and investments.
It’s a real passion of mine that I’m more than happy to share with the world whenever possible.
However, the absolute power of this storm – capable of snatching away life – reinforced the gratefulness I feel for being alive and healthy, which is already a pretty strong level of gratefulness in ordinary circumstances.
Life and health matter far more than money and material possessions.
That goes for those we care about as well as ourselves. What’s of supreme importance is our lives and the lives of those we care most about.
If I, for instance, all of the sudden contracted some form of cancer that required $400,000 of my own wealth to cure, I wouldn’t even think about paying the money. I’d rather be broke than dead.
And all I could think about when this storm was on the verge of hitting Florida was how glad I was to be alive, and how I so wished that no bodily harm would come to me or anyone else.
On the other hand, if all of my money disappeared overnight, this wouldn’t even begin to give me the same level of anxiety.
Likewise, when people decided to quickly flee Florida in search of safer pastures, they were forced to leave behind most of their material objects. Yet when these people are asked in the moment about how they’re feeling, all they can really think about is just making it out okay and living to see tomorrow. They know that things can be purchased once more, that homes can be rebuilt, that life matters far more than money.
It’s easy to get sucked into the grind of everyday life. It’s easy to be fixated on growing one’s wealth and independence.
But it truly is life itself that matters most.
It’s Easy To Take Modern-Day Luxuries For Granted
Electricity. The Internet. Gas. HVAC systems. Airports. Easy access to high-quality food that can be made for you in minutes.
So on and so forth.
I’ve said it before, but I wouldn’t trade places with John D. Rockefeller for a second. There is nobody born before 1900 that was living the kind of high-quality life that even a middle-class worker here in America enjoys in 2017.
I’d sooner trade my entire portfolio in and earn $11/hour than be reborn as Julius Caesar.
While many people continue to chase more wealth and stuff, the real answers to living a quality, healthy, and happy life are already all around us.
It’s easy to take these things for granted… until they’re nowhere to be found.
I’m typing this very article from a local grocery store that’s running on a generator. That’s because there’s no power across much of the state of Florida, including my neighborhood. I have no light. No access to the Internet. No way to cool my home (and it’s mighty hot). No way to refrigerate my food. No access to the bus system.
I feel helpless. Even though I’m relatively wealthy, I feel incredibly poor.
Money won’t cool my home or light my path forward in the face of an emergency like this. I’m eating boxed food and relying on a flashlight, in stifling heat, just like everyone else.
What’s really funny is that humanity lived like this for centuries. You couldn’t just call up your local utility to set up electricity back in 1625. You couldn’t make a call on your cell phone in 1770. You certainly couldn’t access the Internet in 1850. You couldn’t just fly or drive away in the face of a huge storm like this 1900.
These advancements in technology are really the crux of what makes us a happier, healthier, and more interconnected species that’s capable of living longer and doing far more than ever before. We should be tremendously grateful for this.
I’ve never felt more appreciative of the little things than I do at this very moment.
Massive catastrophes and the ensuing emergencies can teach us many valuable lessons. I’m only going over two for the sake of brevity today (especially since I’m a bit light on resources).
But the biggest lesson of all is that we should have this mindset turned on at all times.
It shouldn’t require a massive storm like this to remind us of just how fortunate we are to be alive and healthy, with access to the most amazing technology that’s ever been known to humankind.
Even those with modest means have opportunities to live amazing lives, relative to what was usually possible over the course of most of humanity’s existence.
If we’re keenly aware of this every day, we can live much happier and better lives.
What do you think? Any lessons you’ve learned from recent catastrophes?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.