Last weekend I hosted an early family gathering and Thanksgiving meal for my Indiana family, as my hubby and kids and I headed east for the actual holiday this week.
As it happened, this was also the day that a massive storm front, carrying the potential for dozens of tornados, was moving across Illinois and into Indiana. It was such a surreal experience—the storm was so dangerous that every local TV channel switched to a split-screen pretty early on in the day: half football, half live weather report, tracking the course of the storm. So, as I was cooking the turkey and preparing the fixings and thinking about gratitude, I was also wondering what I should be taking down to the basement, “just in case.”
Normally such an occasion in our family involves eating snacks, then eating the meal, then lounging and playing and talking, and possibly eating some more snacks, but on this particular day, as we were eating our main course, we also had one eye on the windows as gusts of winds whipped around outside and one ear on the meteorologists’ constant reporting from the TV in the other room. We were laughing and joyous and together—but everyone was also eager to finish so they could leave and get back to the comfort of their own homes, “just in case.”
After the family had left and the storm drew nearer, my husband and kids and I headed down into our basement. The city sirens started wailing, and even though at this point the radar showed pretty clearly that the storm was going to hit just north of us, I urged the kids to play with the thousand extra toys I had brought down in a spot farthest away from the two basement windows. You know, “just in case.”
“Just in case” moments are always interesting, aren’t they? It’s a fine line between being prepared and being fearful, between being thoughtful and being hyper-sensitive. Recently when I was out running a quick errand with my daughter I had another of these moments. I got a phone call that a dear loved one was in the hospital, so my daughter and I immediately picked up my son from preschool and headed there. In that moment, as I became hyper aware of the fact that I didn’t have a purse or a jacket or snacks or extra diapers, I realized that it’s always in moments like these that we realize how unprepared we are for moments like these.
So, should I always walk around with a perfectly stocked purse (bag) with money in my wallet and snacks and a spare set of clothes and diapers and water and flashlights and extra batteries and advil and a screwdriver and de-icer? Should my basement always have blankets and flashlights and toys and duct tape and a three-year supply of astronaut food? Maybe a fallout shelter? Just in case? And who decides where the line is? Yes to the diapers but no to the de-icer? Yes to the flashlights but no to the astronaut food?
I don’t know.
But there is this: when I observe what happens in those “just in case moments,” whether I have found myself caught completely unprepared or whether I have utterly over-prepared or whether, rare though it is, I have gotten it just right… well, I suppose those observations help me be more mindful the next time around, and perhaps help me find balance.
Because, the storm didn’t hit us, but now we have some extra blankets and flashlights in the basement that I think I’ll just keep there. And my son survived the hospital visit without a snack or an extra diaper… and if he hadn’t, well we were in a hospital. I'm pretty sure they have stuff. And if not, there were no less than three drugstores within a one mile radius. And, at least for now, I’m remembering to take my purse on even the quickest of errands.
I’ll probably forget these lessons again soon. That is, until the next “just in case” moment shows up to remind me once more.
How can you find balance in those “just in case” moments?
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