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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Everything’s the same

Until it isn’t. People forget how fast their lives can change. One day, everything is fine. The next, disaster strikes. It could be anything: fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, injury, layoff, or one day you come home to a note that the wife has run off with the pool boy.

Stuff happens.

In a long enough life, it will happen to you. It will be bad. How you cope with it will have some bearing on how bad.

Those of us who are preppers try and foresee likely disasters. We prepare for those events we think might happen. Often our preps help us in ways we don’t forsee. We might have food and water stored up because we expect blizzards. Instead, we get fall floods that take out the roads and isolate us. No problem, we can still eat and drink. Basic preparedness: food, water, medicine, energy backups, and so on, work in a wide variety of situations.

There are some situations so big that your preps reach their limit. It can be dramatic and affect millions: like the massive tsunami that flattened Sumatra. (you thought I was going to say Japan, right? Current disasters push out earlier ones) It can be personal: suddenly getting laid off from a job you thought secure.

A sudden disaster can wipe out all your preparations. They may be washed out to sea, at the bottom of a sink hole, scattered across the countryside by a tornado, or too radioactive to use. However, time itself may be the enemy. The disaster, while not too hard to deal with at first, goes on way too long. Time eats away at your preps.

I think back to when I got hurt at work. Usually these claims get settled within a year. I can do a year standing on my head. There were some preps in the house. Our living costs weren’t too extravagant. I made my last car payment with my last paycheck. I even had a supplemental insurance for the first year. Year one, from a financial standpoint, was easy. Year two was a bit tougher. The insurance ran out. The car needed repairs. Preps ran out. Still, we got by. Year 3 was bad, really bad. The car died completely. Debt piled up. Legal expenses exhausted my credit. Year four was insane. That’s when the house was scheduled to go up for auction for non-payment of taxes. At the last minute, my case was settled and we kept the house.

Time wears you down. There are a lot of people that have been in bad shape the last few years. In a way, I was lucky. My problems hit in the mid-90s, when there was still a functioning economy. There are people who’ve been in tight financial straights for years. Unlike me, the economy looks to get worse before it gets better. It will never be the way it was. Many people are in the same boat, fighting for dwindling resources.

When the basic underpinnings of your life changes, you need to draw on your most important prep: mental preparation. You need to take a clear headed look at the situation and deal with it. Don’t dwell on how this is not the way things are supposed to be. Don’t complain that life is unfair. Waste no time waiting for the miracle cure. Look at where you and try to find a path to where you want to be. That might require adjusting your wants.

It’s Okay to grieve, maybe even healthy. Take the time you need to honor the fact that the old way is dead. Get it out of your system.

Then roll up your sleeves and get to work.