Tuesday, April 16, 2013

10 Things for This Day

UntitledYesterday was the kind of day for which Cameron Crowe wrote the line, "I have this theory of convergence, that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just don't know why they have to happen at the same time. I just wish they could work out some schedule." A friend is in the hospital, another friend got a job, earthquakes in Oklahoma, my iPhone revived, and, of course, the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Ever since going through a couple of large scale disasters I tend to go over the procedure a lot when another one happens, even when it isn't close to me. In case it'll help anyone else I'm going to devote this week's 10 Things to that sort of thinking.

1. Now is a great time to practice this set of questions when speaking: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me now? It's easy to trip up when we have such easy ways to broadcast what we say but every time we open our mouths we have a new chance to ask and answer the questions. I, for one, needed a couple of do-overs yesterday before I got it right.

2. Remember that this is, you'll pardon the expression, a marathon, not a sprint. There is a quick sprint at the beginning to get everyone safe and stable and accounted for. Now it's a long haul of detective work, healing, and adjusting to new protocols. Make sure you conserve enough energy to keep going. A friend reminded us yesterday that it took seven months and a false arrest to find the person responsible for the bomb at the Atlanta Olympics. This won't be wrapped up with a bow soon, if ever.

Untitled 3. It's also good to remember that everyone processes things differently. A lot of those different ways might be annoying to you and your way may be annoying to others. Try to be kind to people even if you want to tell them to shut their pie holes. Some people need conjecture, others need facts, some need hysteria, others need media blackout. Me? I gravitate toward lists. I made a list of who I needed to account for. Then I made a list of facts. Then I made a list of things I wanted to say. Then I erased it and asked the three questions in #1. Now I'm making this list. I suspect this list will annoy the fuck out of some people. I hope that making the list will help me to be more compassionate about the ways other people are processing that make my blood boil.

4. Today (and any other day) is a great day to do something nice for first responders. They don't have to be people who responded to yesterday's horror, you probably have wonderful people in your own hospitals, police forces, fire departments, and schools. Can you buy a cup of coffee or drop off a gift card or something for them? Hell, if you're very close to one you could go cheap and just dole out kisses and hugs.

5. It's also a smart day to cut yourself some slack. I tried to put the remote in the fridge and I forgot my lunch. Others have tripped, missed the alarm, and left assignments unfinished. That's ok. Today you just keep moving forward a little and it's ok to go slow. You're worth the time.

6. You're also worth a treat. Get yourself a swirly coffee drink or a pedicure that it's still too cold for anyone to see or have a glass of wine with a friend even though the dishwasher and the cat box are both full.

Little Seal 7. In a calm frame of mind go over your disaster preparedness with your family. Who will text who? Where do we meet? What's the next step if someone doesn't arrive? Who has charge of the pets? How can you use social media to communicate more effectively when lines of communication are slowed? We do this now not because we think that we're going to need the information in the coming days but because now, with everyone on alert, it is safe enough that we have the luxury of time to refine our decisions without panic.

8. This would be a fantastic time to do something nice for a random someone. Since we're all a little jangled in our own personal way how much better would both sides feel if you paid for the person behind you in line or moved someone else's garbage cans or (in too many parts of the country) helped shovel someone's walk.

9. Consider regular breaks from the media today. Just because they're broadcasting 24/7 doesn't mean we have to listen all that time. Whereas it was a hell of a day not to have a working phone yesterday I'm kind of glad I didn't. I was forced to disengage from all informational outlets a few times over the course of the afternoon and evening. I didn't miss any news and I was able to keep my own fear, anger, and panic down to appropriate and manageable levels.

10. Remember that I'm glad you're safe. I hope you stay that way.

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