Though her physical impact on the Tampa Bay Area was minimal, Irma provided us with insight into living life with quality. Here’s what she taught us:
- Embrace the essence of non-attachment
At one point, it was predicted that Tampa was going to be a direct hit with an incredible storm surge. If that were the case, our little first floor apartment on the bay stood no chance against the forces of water. It was time to practice non-attachment; a state in which a person lets go of the identification of their being with their worldly possessions. Sometimes, it’s difficult to part with our materials things, especially if they are imbued with memories. But I had no choice. I threw all of my clothes and books and travel souvenirs on the highest shelf of my closet with the understanding that all of my things were at the mercy of the storm. When I shut the door of our apartment, for what I believed would be the last time, I decided my things aren’t mine anymore. But then, again, they were never mine to begin with. It was unexpectedly liberating.
- Sometimes all you can do is surrender
After all of the hurricane prep was complete to the best of our ability and we fled to higher ground, there was nothing we could do but wait. We monitored the storm via weather apps, hoping Irma’s power would begin to dissipate, but the enormity of the storm was not up to us. I had to relinquish my perceived control of the situation and flow with Mother Nature’s plan.
- There are more angles than what the media presents
I had friends and family call and demand why I wasn’t fleeing the state. They watched the news, they said. It’s gonna be bad. The biggest, baddest storm to ever move across the Atlantic, they heard. They suggested I fly out, or pack up the car and hit the highway. But they weren’t here. All of their knowledge about my situation was regurgitated straight from their television. They didn’t know that gas was so sparse that you’d empty your tank just going out in search of a station to fill up. They didn’t know that the highways were practically live parking lots. They didn’t know that flights were packed and at risk of being delayed and cancelled. This lesson was not to undermine the love and well-intentioned advice that I received. It was about using the entirety of our minds to think critically; to think further than what we’re told because there’s always more to a situation than what the media lets on.
- Build an emergency fund and get the right insurance(s)
I’ve been advised to do this a few times before, but it never resonated with me until now. Having an emergency fund is crucial. Anything can happen at any moment. A pipe can burst, a fire can start, a hurricane can blow through. And while none of those are favorable, they are very real and very costly. My boyfriend and I spent few hundred dollars on dry food, water, and survival equipment and even though it was a small amount of money, we weren’t expecting to spend it on emergency supplies. But, thankfully after securing our lives, we didn’t have much at stake. We are renters without any valuable assets so the loss would have been minimal if our area was as devastated as they forecasted. But, there were some who had to worry about losing their homes, their businesses, their boats, etc. And while everything is replaceable, it is easier when you have a back-up fund.
- Shake it off
While Irma didn’t cause much damage here, she did shake things up. Loose leaves fell from the trees like confetti, dead branches snapped and separated themselves from the trunks of healthy trees, while the unhealthy trees uprooted themselves from the dirt. It seemed as though Irma forced the Earth to release all that no longer served Mother Nature. Since humans embody an Earthly element, we can relate. Sometimes, we endure metaphorical hurricanes, having to face strong winds and heavy rains, and while these situations may seem dark at the time, they require us to revisit our beliefs and let the dead things go.
- Be grateful
I couldn’t believe our luck when I woke up the morning after Irma to the low hum of the refrigerator running. We had power. And even more amazing, we had survived the storm unscathed. So had our apartment. And all of our belongings, and our neighbors and all of their belongings’. We went from preparing for homelessness to a joyous return to life before the storm. I felt an immense gratitude for the life I live, a feeling I promised myself I would continue to cultivate. Count your blessings. Even the mundane ones because chances are, if they disappeared, you’d want them back.
- We live in a fast-paced society, but slow transitions are okay
The morning after Irma, it seemed society was on track to return to it’s normal speed by noon. I found this quick transition to be too radical. The energetic balance of life was still off, yet people were headed to work as if nothing happened. I know I am more sensitive than most, but I saw this rapid transition to be of sociopathic nature. As progressive as our fast-paced society seems, I find that it does not always support the highest and best for our emotional and mental bodies. The lesson here is: society is going to continue moving at a rapid speed. Let it and catch up when you feel like it. Or don’t. It’s up to you to live your life at the speed you want.
Please take a moment to open your heart and send love to those whose lives were compromised and those whose homes and communities were devastated as a result of the storm. There’s power in prayer.