Skip navigation

The recent catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico with the Deepwater Horizon rig failure got me thinking about disasterous events and how we deal with them.  I’ve learned over the years that I don’t tend to do my best thinking when I’m making things up as I go along, so I have gotten into the habit of periodically thinking about the future and making plans in case something bad happens.  This may seem morbid or depressing, but it’s the only way I have figured out to be prepared for dealing with disasters in a way that doesn’t involve curling into a ball and hoping it all goes away. “But what if something happens that you haven’t thought of? You’ll still be hosed in that case.” Possibly.  In the case of the truly unforeseen I will be at a loss for what to do.  I won’t have an escape plan in my head and may not be able to respond appropriately.  But for the most likely cases of things that’ll happen to me, I’ve put thought into those cases or ones similar.  Even if I haven’t thought of what to do in the case of a pandemic sickness, it’s reasonable that I could adapt my “Zombie outbreak” plan enough to be able to get through the initial panic until my brain can go to work on dealing with the differences between my “Zombie plan” (“Find pub. Make sure I have my cricket bat and plenty of shotgun ammo. . . or, presuming I’m not in England, full riot gear and a nearby prison I can clear out and use as a base.”) and my “Pandemic plan”. More realistically, my plans tend to focus on my family.  What do I need to do if something happens to my wife or one of my boys? What is the plan if something happens to my house or one of my cars?  What do I do when, inevitably, one or both of my parents die?  How do I make it through the numbness and shock that I know will follow and make good decisions long enough to let my brain catch up to a massive event like this?  I think about it, go through different plans evaluating the pros and cons and eventually iterating down to something that seems like a reasonable path to go down.  While I’m doing the iteration, I also mentally innoculate myself against the envisioned catastrophe.  I visualize the experience and work through it as much as I can emotionally.  It’s not the same as going through the actual event, but it does give a bit of an idea what feelings will come up and, if the badness happens, the blow is softened. “But you’re spending all this time feeling bad about things that may or may not happen just on the possibility that you’ll be better prepared in that particular eventuality.  Seems like a lot of time wasted feeling bad when you’d likely be better spending that time enjoying the current lack of catastrophe.  Besides, your memory’s so crappy you’ll likely forget your plans if the fecal matter impacts the rotary air mover.” My memory’s pretty bad, that’s true.  That’s part of the reason I do this sort of thing periodically when I have time.  Also, I do this when I’m alone and/or when I’m already sad.  I’m feeling crappy already, I might as well get some productive use out of it. “But you’re always thinking about bad stuff.  Why aren’t you thinking about good stuff and getting a more positive outlook on life? If you just think about the crappy things in life, you’re not going to be prepared when good stuff happens, now are you?” You know, for an imaginary voice in my head, you bring up a good point.  Perhaps I should focus more on good things so I’ll be better prepared when unexpected good opportunities come up so I can better take advantage of them.  We’ll see how that works out.