Monday, September 12, 2011

What is REALLY Important?

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.


10 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Def. it's family. I'd be okay with losing a lot. I'd just want my family, photos, and thumb drive. Helping out in survival times always puts life in perspective.

Anne Gallagher said...

When Hurricane Bob came through RI in the 90's I was homeless for 6 weeks before I found a place to rent. I had my dog and a suitcase. We slept on the beach the first few nights before I got up the nerve to call a few friends to ask if I could crash on their couch. I alternated weeks to not burn out our friendship.

Made me realize what's truly important in the face of disaster.

Good for you for going back and helping out. And I'm sure there were one or two people who appreciated your efforts. They might not have said anything at the time but they will remember.

Jen Daiker said...

It's nice to go back and re-evaluate what's most important. To remember that things are just thing. With all the fire issues we've had here lately with lack of rain, it's been important to know what you'd grab.

My husband, and my two kitties. Everything else is replaceable, loved ones aren't.

Bethany K. Mattingly said...

Thanks for the reminder of keeping the important things a priority.

KarenG said...

It's good to do this because what we spend our time on daily may not be our priorities.

Lindsay said...

Thank you for the reminder. It's good to take a moment to remember the things that are important. I'm so grateful for every moment my loved ones are safe and well :)

Meredith said...

Such an amazing perspective to learn! You're right--people are so much more important than things. I hope your hometown is healing.

Taffy said...

Thankyouthankyouthankyou!
Great reminder of life and perspective!

lbdiamond said...

Nice post! So true.

Julie Daines said...

What a sweet and sad post. And so true. Thanks for the reminder to keep my focus on the things that really matter.