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How Quickly and Randomly Life Can Change

September 2, 2021

There is a randomness to life that is sometimes hard to reconcile. Yesterday we had a bad flood here in Frederick MD. The park that abuts my house was covered in water. Fortunately, the water level never reached my house, nor did we lose electricity. It was as if we could witness what nature was capable of, but not have to deal with the true consequences of its power. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who weren’t so lucky. The most recent storm destroyed their house, ruined their personal belongings, and sadly, in some tragic cases, resulted in a loss of life.

When events like this happen, we should use them as a reminder of how fragile life and our expected normal reality is to external circumstances. No one is immune to the randomness of life.  We may wake up one day with everything okay and end then end the day with everything in tatters. We may feel the symptoms of a minor head cold and end up at the tipping point of a pandemic.  We may take our social and political stability for granted and watch it almost unravel in front of our TV screens in one afternoon.  Two planes could fly into two buildings and one crash into a field on a beautiful September morning that will change your sense of safety and security in the world forever.  It really can happen that fast. Life can change in an instant.

It started out as an enjoyable day. I was facilitating a Vistage Key Executive Group meeting. The group members were engaged, excellent work was being done, and the time flew by. Then I started getting concerned texts from my wife. The weather got progressively worse, the skies darkened, and alerts started popping up on my phone. It was very strange. As I drove home, I saw several cars that had veered off the road and ended up in bad accidents. Fortunately, in each case, there were already police and medical personnel on the scene to help. Then as I got closer to home, the rain worsened, and my wife’s texts turned into increasingly nervous phone calls.

When I finally got home, I could see that a good portion of the city park in front of our house was underwater. And, that water was already starting to form a rapidly moving current. I felt confident that given our elevation our house would be okay. I did worry about some of my neighbors. The power was lost for an instant, but returned quickly, which was certainly a relief and strike of good fortune.  That isn’t always the case with bad storms around here.

It became fascinating and a bit unnerving to watch how many people drove or walked downtown to take in the spectacle. It certainly was an usual event to witness.  I’m glad that none of us had to observe any tragedies or get thrust into a heroic lifesaving role. It all ended up being more of a curiosity than anything. There was a part of me, however, that wondered what if one of them had done something silly and got caught up in a fast-moving current, especially a child (there were many about).  Sometimes common sense is a casualty of curiosity.

The fact that life can be strange at times is undeniable. In the man versus nature battle, I think we’d be foolish to think that we humans have the edge on Mother Nature.  We certainly have figured out how to deal with nature on our terms when it is predictable and compliant. I’m not so sure we’re well equipped to deal with nature when things go awry.  I now live in an area where tornado warnings are becoming a more common occurrence. This is a new phenomenon.  Are we being confronted globally and locally by warning signs that nature is becoming more volatile and unpredictable?  I’m not sure although it does increasingly feel that way.

I wrote this blog as a reminder to myself and others about how fragile life can be and how quickly things can change. Don’t take anything for granted. Hug your loved ones when you leave in the morning. Make sure your affairs are in order. Don’t hold on to silly grudges.  Maybe be a little bit more patient with others who may annoy you in a given moment; you may have to rely on them one day.  You also have no idea what someone else is dealing with. You’re only guessing and probably wrong. There are a whole bunch of our fellow Americans who are in deep distress now. It isn’t their fault.  They have been affected by something beyond their capacity to control.  It could have been you or me. Let’s never forget that.  Life can change in an instant and we should be humble in the face of this reality

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are currently suffering…I certainly hope things turn better for you soon!


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