I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. About what's really important.
As many of you know, my hometown was destroyed in Hurricane Irene in late August 2011. What many of you do not know, is that I went to New York to assist with clean up efforts. I don't suppose I'll ever really understand what caused me to be so impulsive, but all I can say is that I felt a compulsive need to help them.
The opportunity to serve the people of upstate New York was an incredible one, something I will never forget. And I will be forever grateful for the experience. I doubt I did any good or made any real difference, but somewhere deep in my gut - or maybe it's buried in my heart - I believe it mattered to someone.
And so, my recent experiences with clean up efforts of Hurricane Irene, I suppose, were the catalyst for those thoughts of what's really important.
As I shoveled knee-high mud, used 1200 gallons of water to hose out houses and storage sheds, as I sifted through debris gathering remnants of people's lives, I couldn't help but think about what's really important. It's eye-opening when you see someone (lots of someones...mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, poor people, wealthy people, white people, black people, religious people, atheist people) lose everything - their whole lives - it puts things in perspective a bit.
I've thought about my own house and what I'd do if I lost it to a flood or tornado or any other natural disaster. And you know what? Honestly, I wouldn't care about the house.
What I would care about are the people in that house. My beautiful daughters, my loving husband, our cute little dog. I'd care about photographs and family heirlooms. But the granite counters? The furniture? The television and movie theater? They really don't matter.
I've thought about writing and music and cake decorating - the artistic venues I've chosen to share my talents with others. If I was ever forced to give them up, I would be sad. Lost. Miserable.
What all this thinking has boiled down to is this: things are just things. They are replaceable. But the talents, skills and education that make us who we are, the people who make us who we are, are not. Our loved ones should always take top priority in our lives. Because they are irreplaceable.
Someday, many eons from now, we will pass on to another life. While we are in those last hours, I highly doubt we will reflect on our earthly possessions....our cars, our houses and furniture, our granite counters or swimming pool. Instead, we will be thinking of all those who've touched our lives, who brought us joy and shared our lives with us. I doubt we will think, "I wish I'd redone the kitchen or spent more time watching TV." I can guarantee that we, instead, will cherish memories and think "I'm glad I played ball with my son or taught my daughter to play piano. I'm glad that when my friend needed me I was there for her."
So take a moment today, tomorrow, everyday this week, this month, this year to reflect on what's really important. I assure you, you won't be sorry.