Potpourri: Tsunami – And What Are You Doing With Your Life?:
In America with our freedom and independent spirit we believe we can control our fate. Through resourcefulness and drive we can accomplish almost anything. That belief has propelled me. At a personal crossroads about 15 years ago someone suggested that I listen to Brian Tracy’s “The Psychology of Achievement” tapes and remake my life. I did and eventually started a company. The success was satisfying and I have often thought, “Amme, you indeed control your future.”
The tsunami has reminded all of us, “No you don’t!”
Is there really any difference between you and me and a man living on the east coast of India who bought a fishing boat, created a thriving business (fishing has grown greatly in that region) and watched the tidal wave crush it? I suppose he felt pretty comfortable December 25th. Then, two days later: no boat, no business, no family.
Since the calamity I have been reflecting a lot – as I’m sure you have – on who, or what, really controls our destinies and the significance of it all. I remember going to the movies as a child to see the film “When Worlds Collide.” My little boy eyes watched a runaway planet bear down on Earth. The impending collision ripped buildings and land as a handful of survivors escaped to restart civilization on another planet. Although “it was only a movie,” I recall walking out of the theater seeing the world as less solid, less reassuring. I never forgot it.
As I grew older and learned more, I realized that movie was not so far-fetched. Do you remember how you felt when you first learned that giant asteroids periodically hit our seemingly peaceful Earth, usually wiping out most species? Though they strike millions of years apart, it will happen again. There is no doubt. A colossal rock with our name on it will be en route.
Remember too how you felt when you learned that the sun will expand, destroy earth, and die about 5 billion years from now? The hills, ocean and sky will be consumed. All around us will be gone.
And you may have read that many scientists believe that in the far far future, hundreds of billions of years from now, the ever-expanding ever-accelerating universe will disburse the galaxies. Their stars – all stars – will eventually wink out of sight as their energy is exhausted. The universe will be black and cold.
We do NOT control our tomorrows. Yet, we pass through each day as if it comes with a written guarantee. Too often we think about the past and the future, seldom treasuring the often splendid present. I plead guilty.
In the minutes before the wave, fishermen in India, tourists in Thailand, residents of Sri Lanka, and villagers of Indonesia, lived routinely. Do you suppose that if they could have known that the world they knew would end, death was imminent, and there was no escape, that they would have savored the remaining precious seconds of existence and their loved ones? I would like to believe so. People who have faced certain death and miraculously survived have told of accepting their fate and finding a tranquility they had never known.
If we wish, the tsunami can be a kind of global warning shot across our psyche. The catastrophe can remind us that we do not know the true terms of our existence. Today can be sweeter if we accept that we cannot predict tomorrow or control it. If we acknowledge that not even the universe is forever, we are compelled to embrace the present, what we have now, and make peace with it.
Thank goodness it is unlikely we will personally endure geologic disaster, but each of us will be sorely tested, we will face death and we will wish we had cherished the everyday moments more. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could appreciate the present, this day, this minute, without impending crisis?
After all, we could be that fisherman in India.