“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” – Proverbs 24:27 (ESV)
Knowing what you have to do and doing it are two vastly different things. With multiple large-scale disasters over the past two months — everything from earthquakes, to hurricanes and floods, to wildfires, to mass shootings — the importance of preparedness has come into sharp focus. Oh, I intend to remind you in my own words, but sometimes another puts it to verse, rhymes it, and makes it memorable.
Do your work — the hard stuff — first. Then enjoy the reward.
It’s time for another trip to the Poetry Corner. Here’s “Whittier Meets Heloise” by Joe (Tarzana Joe) Santi:
Whittier Meets Heloise
Of all the words of tongue and pen
That bring a person sorrow
I think, by far, the cruelest are
“I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
For whether you are free from want
Of find yourself in need
“Tomorrow” is the single thing
That no one’s guaranteed
It only takes an instant
To destroy what’s stood for years
That goes for homes and nations
Reputations and careers
So if you hear your partner say
“I’ll do it in the morning”
Remember some disasters come
Without a moment’s warning
And when the morning after comes
The ones who best have fared
Are scouts who know the wisdom
Of their motto, Be Prepared
Promise every day to do
The best a person can
And know that every evening
You are good with God and man
Organize your efforts
In the way your wife insists
Nothing helps the mem’ry more
Than making a few lists
Your most important papers
Have you stored them safely, mister?
Scan them to a flash drive
And send it to your sister
Here in California
There’s a tip I always use
Glasses on your nightstand
And your wallet in your shoes
Don’t be like this guy I know
The worst procrastinator
Now I’ve got some poems to write
I think I’ll do them later”
Procrastination is cruel and seductive. It will lead you to a trap of busyness — activity without accomplishment. In my experience, procrastination grows in the soil of doubt and fear. I’m unsure what I need to do, so I punt the decision; or I don’t want to fail, so I put off trying. Our poet friend shows us how this can affect us in disaster scenarios. He’s right, and there are more occasions that will expose a lack of preparedness.
Ready for disaster?
Clearly, you and your household need a disaster plan that includes how you’ll tend to food and potable water, heat/shelter, first aid/medical needs, and a designated meeting place in case of a disaster. So let’s start there. DO you have a plan, or do you have a plan to make a plan? Our fellow citizens in Texas, Florida, California, and Puerto Rico, along with our neighbors in Mexico would tell you why it matters.
But let’s dig deeper. Are your affairs in order? By that I mean, are your financial documents — including your will and any advance medical directives — squared away and in a place where your loved ones know where to find them? Have you told them where they can find them? As I wrote last time
, our family lost my sweet mother-in-law from injuries she sustained in a car accident. Fortunately, she had planned ahead and had discussed her wishes and the location of her documents — including a healthcare directive and power of attorney — with her children. It did not lessen the severity of our loss, but it did give us peace to know her intentions and to ensure she received treatment just as she would have requested it herself.
I want to emphasize that these kinds of plans and documents become all the more important when you have a family of your own. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for having seen to your business.
It’s what’s inside
And this brings us to the most important form of preparedness. Have you done the homework — the theoretical and practical study — to prepare your body and your mind? That will give you legitimate confidence that you can lead your family safely through a crisis. Scouting was a great source of hands-on training in overcoming physical challenges, but it is not the only way to learn the necessary skills — especially if you’re too old to join. You can take courses in first aid and in wilderness survival, to name two. See, there’s this thing called The Internet…
Pass it on
If you’re already prepared, can you pass on what you’ve learned to your friends, family members and co-workers? Not only will this enable them to care for themselves, the process of teaching a subject drives it deeper into your memory, making your responses automatic.
What lifetime are you waiting for?
We have discussed the importance of developing a bias toward action. Let me encourage you again to confront the fear of failure and to do the hard work. What do you need to do — go to the gym, the range, the woods, your lawyer’s office, the class? Challenge yourself and allow yourself to fail – you’re learning, after all. Then take a clear-eyed look at your resources and at what types of disasters are more likely in your area. Where I live, earthquakes are exceedingly rare, but not impossible. Hurricanes, hailstorms, and tornadoes are more likely causes of disruption. Figure it out and plan accordingly.
One last thing
As we dealt with my mother-in-law’s injuries and hospitalization, I reflected on the last time I had seen her before the accident. Happily it was for my son’s wedding, and we all had such a great time together. The last things we said to each other were words of love and appreciation. That memory was a great comfort.
While you’re banishing procrastination, make it a point today to tell those closest to you that you love them and that you appreciate them — and do that in a way that’s authentic to you. I assure you, you won’t be sorry.
So how about you? What have you been putting off? Put your plan on the clock by posting it as a comment below. Do it now.