After Irma. What Now?

Hurricanes are as Floridian as oranges. As trucks and rims. As mosquito spray, a spare shirt, and extra deodorant in the car. But what we faced wasn’t just a hurricane.

What we in Florida, and across the Caribbean faced, and continue to stare down, are not just natural disasters. They are increasingly volatile weather patterns worsened by our incessant Manifest Destiny-esque interventions into our Earth’s atmosphere, water, and soil. We have antiquated emergency-response systems, and even older infrastructure. For a region that is consistently shifting in culture and cost, we are behind the times AF. Willful ignorance driven by profit margins and party lines. We dodged a bullet, but won’t be so lucky every time.

I live in South Florida. The proof is already at hand. King tides. Climate gentrification. Sustained development despite warnings. Atlantis is real, just give us a few years.

I can’t change those things. I work to educate and influence others. My call to action is a bit more personal. All I can do is prepare. In political, socio-economic, and literal climates such as ours, we have to stay strapped in ways that aren’t always tangible.

After Irma I wondered what I’d be coming home to. If there’d be a home at all. How would life be different for me? If I returned, and found my apartment had been turned into a pile of rubble, what then? Would I cash in my 401k and start anew? Forge a new destiny out of the smoldering ashes of the old one?

What would I be prepared to change?         To give up? To shed? How would I be changed? It’s clearer than ever that we may be gone in an instant from a wealth of reasons, so what time we do have is precious. How we spend it is crucial.

After spending a week with my family free of phones, television, and distractions I put together a list.

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1. Travel – Not just dusting off my passport and stunting for the ‘gram. Traveling to make the world small, to understand others, and scope out cultural epicenters that might be my future home(s). With the way things are looking, the U.S. is a lot less attractive for raising a family as global citizens.

2. Work In/On my Passions –  Deliberately cultivating my craft. Becoming knowledgable not just about MY job, but the industry and region in which I work. Earnestly putting together a topographical map of the influences that shape the area I work in, so that I can be more than just a cog. A number. A cubicle-slave. Also, giving real thought to leaving the 9-5 schedule, and its accompanying #workwoes, behind.

3. Meet More People. This one is a little more complex. Actually leaving my house, sure. Also, shedding my expectations and prejudices in social settings so I can give people a chance. But, mostly for me. Removing expectations, and being present in the moment so that I can TRULY enjoy people. Meeting them where they’re at. I can worry about their character and the implications of their speech and actions later. Or never, if we don’t meet again. It also means networking actively. And NOT just for the job I’m in at the moment. It’s not cheating to accept a business card, or have a NON-work-related lunch. Ultimately I am my greatest asset.

4. Learn. Self explanatory. As much as possible; by any means possible. Woke AF!

5. Simplify my Life! When I came home, my room had flooded. My carpet was soaked and everything that touched the floor was stained, soggy, or stank. But I didn’t die. It forced me to take a long hard look at all the crap I had accrued. Literally. I had to take everything out of my room while my carpet dried. Blessing in disguise. I realized just how much stuff I had gathered and wasn’t using. I threw out expired face creams, abandoned DIY projects, and donated bags and bags to relief efforts. Traveling lighter.

Blessing in the Lesson = Blesson

a. I hoard. I believe it’s a symptom of poverty. It makes me feel in control; prepared by owning things in multiples. Even if I don’t use them. STUFF isn’t wealth.

b. Memories don’t occupy space. Also, some things don’t need to be remembered. For example, old body shapes and sizes. This body and this life are the only ones I have, and the ones I should dress for. If I want either to change, I have to take action.

c.  BE light. Live light and simple. If things hold you to a place, then a storm is completely devastating; even if you escape with your life.

6. Family Time. I am putting effort into the connections with my family and culture that can’t be ripped apart by any force of wind or surge.

I want you all to live and BE light. Don’t wait for a hurricane to assess your lives, and determine value. Stay ready. Stay engaged. Invest in the intangibles.

Keep your carry-on small, and your bank account bigger.

Roze Goes, I love you.

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