We were expecting the absolute worst snowstorm this week. So much so that I received an email from a Texan professor over the weekend instructing me to buckle down for a horrendous storm of snow and ice-inducing temperatures.
Sure, we got some of it. My street has been coated in a foot of slushy, icy snow for the last three days, and the on-street parking situation just shouldn’t be touched. Period. At least my heater is running, my house has power and my computer’s ability to virtually connect me to any and all of my regular activities is good as ever.
This week, I’m just feeling lucky to have known there was a storm coming. I did my panicky grocery shopping trip while mentally preparing myself to be snowed in and slightly anxiety-ridden. We all did, I think. Because of our anticipation, that initial awareness, mixed with a bit of luck, we really didn’t get the worst of it compared to others in the country.
That got me thinking. Surely, it didn’t feel idiotic to run around the grocery store in preparation for the anticipated storm, as collectively, we knew we were in for something big, something that would change our ‘normal” day-to-day functioning and require foresight to survive. We knew we had to prepare ourselves. So, what about the times when we have no idea a storm is coming?
In March of 2020, most of us had little if any time to prepare for the extreme measures required of us to beat down a sudden pandemic. However, only “sudden” thanks to repeated assurance from our executive branch that COVID-19 was harmless and easily manageable.
Man, were they wrong. We spent months in lockdowns to slow the spread and avert further catastrophe. Many people, used to driving into work or school every day, socializing on weekends in large numbers and taking the suspiciously smooth functioning of our modern, everyday lives for granted, were not prepared.
Before last year, I’d often hear jokes about the anxious and paranoid who wasted their days mastering survival skills or hoarding toilet paper and canned peas. Nowadays, though, I have to say, they weren’t so crazy after all.
With a rapidly deteriorating climate sure to cause an increasing number of natural disasters and consequential man-made disasters in the coming years, these storms must become our new normal. If the worst of all storms are the ones we don’t see coming, shouldn’t we all be prepared?
I don’t even mean this in a surface-level way. We cannot expect to depend on having easy access to everything at all times, and having the skills to problem-solve, make do and even occasionally grow our own food wouldn’t be a bad idea. If the last year, with all of its near-apocalyptic circumstances, taught us anything, it should be to expect the unexpected even in intangible ways.
Mentally, we must wrap our heads around that in the next few years and decades, life will change dramatically. Our climate will not stop “changing,” as we so lightly put it. Clinging on to our institutionally built privileges won’t necessarily help when our foundation crumbles around us.