Hurricanes and Heart Attacks

by Sandy Nelson on November 2, 2012

Life is unpredictable. Life can be unfair. These are the understatements of the year.

Who would have thought that one of the most devastating hurricanes in history and a family member suffering a heart attack would occur in the same week? What happened to our carefully crafted plan? How is it that life was turned upside down in a flash?

I’m reminded of being a participant in George Leonard’s Samurai Game at Rancho Strozzi years ago. One moment you’re alive and vital. The next? A purely arbitrary event occurs and you’re on the floor, dead as doornail (figuratively speaking)—suddenly relegated to the role of passive observer.

Every day, someone, somewhere steps into the street and is hit by a car. A friend, during his first visit to London long ago, forgot about traffic direction in the UK, stepped off a curb in Piccadilly, looked left instead of right, and was hit by bus.

In the redwoods of Northern California, it is not unusual to hear about people out and about running errands being crushed in their car by a falling giant of a tree. This happened to a young mother and her baby the first year we lived in the wine country surrounding Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

Well laid plans, thoughtfully imagined and meticulously anticipated, organized and sequenced, can go up in smoke with little to no notice. Disruptions are so often random.

Let’s face it. Life can be here one moment and not the next. Fickle is a word that comes to mind when I think of life in the real world. Why is it that some live long healthy lives while others die young from random events and disease?

Yes, we all know but seldom come face to face with the fact that instability is a constant factor in the human experience. Knowing and accepting this is key to embracing just how precious life is.

Because we know, and when we elect to be aware, we choose to move forward. Each day is a gift. Every opportunity opens a doorway to passionate engagement, a sense of contribution and an infinity of reward. Connection at many levels lies at the essence of fulfillment. Love, beauty and the arts are nectars that fuel the soul.

It is precisely because the gifts of life—opportunity, engagement, contribution, connection, love, beauty and artistic inspiration and insight can be so fleeting—and our tendency to loose awareness of how cherished every moment we have should be, that events like hurricanes and heart attacks serve as reminders.

Reminders of what matters. Reminders of the gift we are each given—even in the midst of inconvenience, disruption and despair.

How do you navigate uncertainty? How do you respond to the unfair?

Today is a good day to take moment or two to be grateful. To bring your awareness to the gift of life. To ask yourself what matters most, what is negotiable and what is not?

Once done, there is a choice to be made. How will you move in the game of life? With awareness, intention and integrity? I hope so.

When you choose this path, and I choose this path, we will have the opportunity to make a difference that matters. To have lived life well with purpose and meaning.

Full forward.


Sandy Nelson

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: