My community north of Boston has been included in the emergency restricted water use program since Saturday evening. The report is that the main water pipe supplying fresh water to 2 million people in over 700,000 homes broke. The flow to the broken pipe was stopped and now untreated water from a different reservoir is flowing to the affected homes and businesses. Since the water is untreated, it must be boiled or otherwise treated prior to consumption. Lake water is better than no water, I suppose.
Within moments of about 6:30 PM Saturday there were automated phone calls from the town, emergency "crawls" across the bottom of the television screen, Facebook postings, text messages, and a wide range of other delivery systems describing the end of the world. And we were so calm. The secret? Be prepared.
Our process was pretty straight forward: Gather the one-liter plastic water bottles from the cabinet. Go to the cupboard and get the water purifier device as well as the water purification tablets leftover from our backpacking trip across India. Begin a system of boiling tap water in the tea pot and filling all available pitchers. Place anti-bacterial gel dispensers on counters and in bathrooms. Briefly collaborate with teenage son about a healthy protocol over the next few days (weeks?). Be prepared.
And so far, it has been a breeze. The only complication is remembering not to drink water while in the shower spray.
I was raised in earthquake-ridden Los Angeles where having your "earthquake kit" supplied and ready to go was a fact of life. While you could not do anything about the earthquakes themselves, you could manage your life, your safety, and your survival if you were adequately prepared. Back-up food supplies, bleach, blankets, first aid supplies, the car always adequately gassed up, spare cash, a transistor radio, an emergency call/evacuation plan...very straightforward. I can recall sitting on the rubble of my home in 1994 moments after the infamous Northridge Earthquake, only a few miles from the epicenter, boiling up a pot of tea while assessing the damage and waiting out the aftershocks. The pre-dawn quake was quite terrifying but the aftermath didn't have to be. Be prepared.
So what? Well...what if restricted water use was simply a metaphor for "emergency" or "things will happen that are out of your control" or, as my house contractor likes to call the "Oh, s**t moments"? How prepared are you for managing the really important emergencies in your life, the kinds of emergent issues that are really, vitally important? What does ease look like in moments like this? How do you keep yourself together?
And beyond the impact of broken water mains or earthquakes, think about the catastrophes of life and living: A broken heart, a sick body, an unplanned divorce or employment disruption...increase in college tuition, the roof leaking, a board chair resigning, a major event being rained out...the economic recession, volcanic ash in the air canceling air flights, a war...a death, a birth, a diagnosis, a crisis of faith. Anything can (and will) disrupt our lives and escalate into a major crisis if we are not mindful of preparation and holding the value of ease.
Anticipate. Plan. Anticipate. Plan. Ease.