We were not prepared they say. We did not foresee 30 days of rain teeming down on us. Not in one day, not in our lifetime. It was an act of God, fortuitous, a fluke. Nature is as baffling as it is formidable and wherever you hide, you’re still bound to get wet. And maybe we can be excused from uncertainty, especially when the chance of it happening was miniscule, a fluke.
Now, what about your life? What is an act of God, that is indubitable, and certain? It is death. (It took me a few revisions before I could actually write the sentence: “It is death.” and not cringe.) This is our inescapable fate and there is no excuse for being unprepared. And yet we go about our lives pretending it might not come, or that by chance, we live forever, or that maybe, we won’t die in this lifetime. I realize the foolish precautions we do. Store up riches and draw up a will. How frivolous and mad! You prepare for things you leave behind? What do you take with you? When Death comes knocking at my door, I show him the last will, a paper testament on how I lived my life in preparedness. And then, dismissing that thought, as I have already sealed my fate on paper, I go on with the mundane everyday. Because surely, tomorrow is not the day I die.
But what if the storm comes? And it’s a volley of water that engulfs the riches I have piled up; and I can no longer hang around the house I have built? And what if all the filth I have kept in sewage, resurges to drown all I possess with a vengeance? And what if, on that day, that fateful day I have never prepared for, I have neither higher ground to climb to nor rescue? What if I do not have the day-after to map out my life for the next rainstorm; when I cannot be the girl who survived to tell the tale? What then?
A week after the great storm and I woke up in a foul mood. Off to my monotonous everyday, and as I wait for my Caramel Latte, a woman came in and as happy as a lark, chirped (or maybe sang): Good morning! How are you!” to the woman behind the counter. And just like that, I see the girl beaming, all spirits lifted up and the cafe was sunny. I chatted with the lark. She was American and in the Peace Corps. Her joy was infectious and I left the coffee shop singing my own happy tune. Just like that. Now. I wish I was like her, greet the day with as much gusto, grateful for having lived anew. Now. I wish I could see every human being I meet. Because that girl behind the counter I see everyday? I do not know her name. Everyday, she greets me with the familiar: “Good morning, Tall Caramel Latte?” and I do my dim-witted smile and impervious nod, thinking so many thoughts, and I do not see her.
I received an email, To Do’s, a Lifeline Disaster Supplies Kit, with people’s advice on what should have been done when the rains poured. But these are all after-thoughts. Meanwhile, the rains unleashed its fury. Meanwhile, we trudged through muddy waist-deep waters. Meanwhile we stayed hungry on the roof for hours. Meanwhile, 400,000 are homeless. And I, cannot have an after-thought when my time runs out. And so I am setting out my host of To Do’s, my Lifeline Kit, more wishes than shoulds.
I wish I could master my thoughts so they don’t stray and I can hear how the world speaks through everything. I wish I could be conscious about what I do, instead of going through life without as much freedom as a puppet on strings. I wish I could carry on, do my small acts of kindness, finish what I start, so I make my little dent on the world. I wish I could be serene and not give way to the anger and fear that enslaves me. I wish I could be joyful and remember how I should never stop dancing. I wish I could look at the world without judgment, take pain and sorrow as my teachers, take the bad and the ugly, see them as good and beautiful. I wish I had faith: faith in things; faith in people; and faith in myself. I wish this and I wish that. And I wish the the rains don’t fall tonight so the stars shine bright, and I could have them grant my wishes.
What is yours? Your To Dos, your Lifeline Kit, what should you do if it rains on your parade?