Friday, May 16, 2014

What Is Important Here?

Nuggets For The Noggin
What is Important Here?
What Would You Put In YOUR Truck?
Part 1 of 6
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 29, 2005

Note:  I will be posted 6 Nuggets for the Noggin I wrote immediately following Hurricane Katrina this being Part 1.  Check back over the next several weeks for the remaining 5 parts.  It is a slice of history that may help others who unfortunately may experience something similar.

Today as I write this Nugget, I am sitting in Birmingham, Alabama at my daughter’s home (who by the way is in England visiting her in-laws) and Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on my home in Slidell, Louisiana – a direct hit I believe.

For years I have watched as storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters have struck other parts of the country and could not help but wonder how I would feel, what I would think or how I would respond.  I guess that is why I like to watch some of the old World War II films as I always wondered how I would have reacted when placed in Harms’ Way.  I do not think anyone could know for certain.  I also cannot help but think that there will be a sequel to this Nugget when I finally get to return to whatever is left of my home and see it firsthand.

For today, these are my thoughts as I watch television and the coverage of the storm as it approaches Slidell.

I would like to pose a question to you:  “If you had only minutes or even a few short hours to make some decisions such as my wife and I had to make, AND you only had so much room in your car or truck, what would you take with you if you were forced to evacuate your home?”  Now before you answer, you really have to set the stage by remembering you have only a few minutes or at best a few hours to decide while at the same time you had to get your home ready the best you can to take on the onslaught it is about to experience.

Assuming that my wife and my Miniature Schnauzer Sophie were going with me, what else would I want to take?  What would you take?  The family photos are the most precious to my wife (not that they are not for me but they seem MORE precious to her), the family photos were loaded onto the truck.  Insurance papers!  Of course, without them how would you know who to call?  Other family papers that would be difficult or impossible to replace.  (If ever there was proof that you need to make copies of such papers and store them somewhere other than at your home, this is it!)  When it came down to it, just about anything worth saving were “papers”, either documents needed for AFTER the crisis or documents/photos that simply could not be replace.  Believe it or not, that included income tax papers and records.  Why?  Because I do not have the faith necessary to believe that our Federal Government would understand that I may have just lost everything in my home including THEIR documentation of my taxes.  How sad is that?  Dollar value?  Hardly any!  Emotional or sentimental value – priceless!

We did not take many clothes with us, there was simply not enough room and I guess we are still hoping that our home will be left untouched or at least we would be able to retrieve things like clothing that may be soaked but not necessarily ruined. 

Now you can laugh if you wish, but the last thing I put in my truck besides myself was my golf clubs.  Not the entire bag, just the clubs.  At first I was just going to leave them behind with everything else but then the more I thought about it, they are precious to me and for anyone who plays golf knows, clubs become very personal to you.  You finally got them just like you want them, the right heads, the right shafts, and the right clubs; how could you even begin to replace them?  New clubs are not the same; you want your old ones.  I was afraid to tell my wife that I was taking them with me so when I did, you can appreciate my surprise when she said, and “I thought they would be the first thing you want to take.”

So now it is the next day, the storm is only minutes from Slidell and I had a chance to think about what we put in our truck.  You think of your military records, uniform, awards and medals.  You think of all the books that I have accumulated in my library that number in the hundreds.  You think of the knick knacks around the home, some valuable, some just knick knacks.  The china you were given at your wedding along with the silverware.  Your furniture.  The pictures on your walls.  Your tools.

But you know what, all that can be replaced in time or at least most of it.  Even the books; I have read them, the knowledge is in your head, the books are but shadows of what you learned and Katrina cannot take that away from me.  There are things, however, that I really will miss.  I have a signed and numbered print by LeRoy Neiman that proudly hangs (hopefully) on my wall.  It was at this thought that my mind suddenly went negative.  You start to think of all the "what if’s” that could happen.  What if this…  What if that…  Then is really hit me.  What if my home survives the storm or is only partially damaged.  And then “what if” the looters take over?  It was then I got angry, not over my home being hit by a storm, that is “chance” but looters, that is not chance, that is opportunity for people with no principles or ethics.  I know they will be busy throughout Louisiana and Mississippi over the next several days and there is nothing that I can do about it. 

But even that can be put into perspective.  When I deal with a crisis of any kind, I always ask myself, one month from now, a year from now, five years from now or after I am gone from this Earth, will anyone really remember what happened on this day or as a result of some activity?  I doubt it.  Every day we have opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life (by the way, those opportunities did not make it in the truck either).  That is what is important.  The LeRoy Neiman is not important (cannot believe I just wrote that) and if the truth be known, neither are my golf clubs.  Diane and Sophie are important at least in our small world.  But what is really important is the difference I may have made in someone’s life – and even more important the chain reaction that difference may have caused in many more lives; people I do not even know.

It would be nice to know these things but even that is not important.  The important thing – I gave it my best even when my best may not have been good enough for someone – I gave it my best and in that knowledge I am okay.  I think it was A. L. Williams who said, “All you can give is your best and your best IS good enough!”

So maybe, just maybe, the most valuable thing I put in my truck, next to Diane and Sophie, was me so I can continue to give my best and hopefully provide something of value to others who in turn do the same for someone else.

I am not blinded to the fact that as stated earlier, once I see my home in whatever condition it is in, I may have different thoughts but somehow I do not think so.  But in my desire to be honest with everyone, I will let you know. 

I ask you again, think about this.  If you had to leave town right now – what would you put in YOUR truck?

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