Practical Preparedness – Part 2

So I want to be prepared – Now What?

Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The most critical thing is what I like to call the “Preparedness Mindset”. This doesn’t mean paranoia, or keeping a shipping pallet of toilet paper or non-perishable supplies in your garage. It means that you consider what you’re going to do in the event of an emergency, and that you have a plan. As I like to say about nearly everything in life: Make the plan, work the plan.

If it feels like this isn’t normal, or that no one else is doing it, consider this : The US federal government has actually been supporting the notion of preparedness for many years, but in the face of convenience culture, it’s pretty widely ignored. But we have real-world examples of disasters in our recent past. Consider these scenarios:

The regional blackout in the northeastern US in 2003

Hurricane Katrina in 2005

The Camp fire in Norther California in 2018

And of course the Covid 19 pandemic that locked the world down in 2020.

These are not hypotheticals. And they are not completely isolated. Do you live on a coast? You’ve got the threat hurricanes and floods. Live in the Midwest? You’ve got snowstorms and hurricanes. Live in the West? Droughts and wildfires (and if you’re in California you can throw in earthquakes too).

Read what our esteemed federal government says about preparedness. There’s some great material here and you could easily spend 30 minutes (or more) immersed in this. and the Department of Homeland Security.

So now what do you do. The first step in being prepared (aside from establishing the need to be prepared) is to assess who you are making preparations for and what hazards are you likely to face.

Who – This is your family, your tribe, your clan. For many of us, these are the people that are going to look at me in time of need and trouble and expect answers. Are you a parent or head of household with children? Are you single, but look after an elderly parent or special needs friend? Is it just you? What you need and how much of it is heavily dependent on assessing the ‘who’ in your life. Don’t forget pets. And irreplaceable photos and documents. In this day and age of technology priceless memories can be digitized and stored in the cloud or on media that you can easily take with you, but you have to think of this beforehand.

What – What disaster are you expecting to face? Storms? Earthquake? Riots? Are you expecting to shelter-in-place or ‘get out of Dodge’ when something bad happens? This will decide if you’re going to stock emergency supplies at home or at the office, or if you’re going to have a ready cache of supplies and gear that you ‘re going to load up and haul somewhere else. Perhaps you don’t know with certainty and need to be prepared on some level for either scenario.

Resources – What do you have to bring to bear to an effort at becoming prepared? If you’re thinking about this and making a plan you’re already most of the way there. Your best resource is the gray matter between your ears and your hands and feet. You don’t need thousands of dollars or to move to a forest miles from civilization. Even the popular notion of being prepared to ‘Bug Out’ isn’t really what most people should be thinking about first. We already equip ourselves for every day life, so all we really need to do is make a plan, add a few things and some supplies to get us by.

Look at Where You Want to Go

Photo from

Why is it human nature that we are constantly re-hashing the things in our past? Why do we focus on the things behind, instead of the things ahead? So much emotional dysfunction is a result of our experiences, so it’s natural for us to dwell on our personal history… events wonderful and terrible. One of the problems is that this vision isn’t really perfectly clear. Our memories are not flawless and our emotions tend to color and distort everything. After almost six months of counseling, I’m learning that my recollections and perceptions are distorted.

Looking back and learning from our past is very important. We need to understand how we got to where we are. But dwelling excessively, disproportionately, is unhealthy. Imagine driving a winding, interesting, scenic, busy road, constantly focused on the rear-view mirror. How well is that going to work? Is it safe? Productive? Do you think you’ll arrive where you intended to go?

As I’ve recently heard someone say in one of my favorite podcasts ‘There’s a reason the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so big.’ Take a moment to reflect there. Our attention should be primarily focused on the road ahead. On where we are going and the things that are unfolding ahead and in front of us. We cannot alter the past. We cannot re-drive the road behind or (more importantly) change how we travelled it. We can only impact our future. This may include righting wrongs, or reconciling and healing hurts, but we cannot and should not constantly relive our past. It is our natural inclination and a function of trauma and emotional pain to do so, and to the degree that we do it with guidance from wise counsel, as a way to deal with our troubles, it’s fine. But to dwell on it otherwise is unhealthy.

I’m learning, more every day, to leave regret, shame and heartache where they belong. In my past. The grief and anger and pain need not be my life-long companions. And if I let them be that companion, if I let them define me, then my life will never be what it could be. I will never realize the joy that I’m meant for. And I want that joy VERY much.