I’ve written before about how, despite my interest in dystopian subjects and new ways to destroy the world, I am not anything remotely like a “prepper” because I don’t want to live my life motivated by fear.
And I still feel that way. But we just had a wicked ice storm that paralyzed north Texas, and it made me think.
I was fairly well-prepared for the storm. My mom’s a worrier, and had alerted me to it well in advance. I’d followed the weather, made lots of hearty foods and ran out to buy extra wood and supplies the night before it hit. I have an ice scraper that looks sort of like a wizard’s staff and two cans of de-icer, blankets and a nice winter coat.
But things did not go according to plan. At all.
First, when I got home, my water had been turned off. There went my plan to fill a few pitchers before the storm really hit, and it was too late to try to get any from the store, which was overrun by panic-stricken shoppers. A miserable-looking work crew was on it, though, and it was restored by 9 p.m., just in time for me to enjoy a hot shower (and fill my tea kettle).
Then, overnight, my power went out. About 100,000 people lost power, all together, and the power company had no timeline on when it would be up. My plan to work from home was out the window, so I had to trek in to work. By the time I got home, it still wasn’t back, so I had to go stay with family for the weekend. Alternative sources for heat and light just hadn’t been part of my preparations.
TL;DR: Ice storms are unpredictable.
But it made me realize the most important part: I had somewhere to go. Even if my parents hadn’t lived in town, I would have been able to call a number of folks who would have let me stay with them while I waited for the power to come back.
And that’s why I’m not afraid.
When faced with a crisis, we (humans) tend to help one another. In addition to the people I knew would let me stay with them, I saw folks working together to clear downed trees, carve cars out of the ice or pull them back into the road, share resources. (I gave some neighbor kids a few board games to keep them entertained while they waited out the power problems.)
People help. Sure, sometimes people cause harm or damage, but by and large, people help.
A coworker who has a “prepper” bent and is new in town was surprised that there wasn’t any looting. The thought literally never occurred to me. How sad that fear of others was his first concern. (I guess he would say how sad it is that I wasn’t worried about my stuff…)
I think I’m not the only one thinking more about community lately. Our self-imposed technological isolation from other people is starting to have ramifications, and we’re starting to talk about it. More and more, it’s becoming clear that people NEED people. It’s considered socially acceptable to be very close to your spouse, but what happens when your spouse dies?
We need more than one person, or two people, or three people in our lives. We need a community, and that takes time and effort to build.
I need to do it better. This week, I started by being nice to a neighbor who has lived nearby for six months. I shook her hand and said hello.
It’s a start.