If you were wondering what it would take to turn a cut-throat political race into an opportunity for humans to display their best behavior, you now have your answer: a force of nature. Hurricane Sandy was powerful enough to make us all stop and get perspective on what is truly a matter of life or death and what isn’t.
President Obama was photographed with his arms wrapped around people who might or might not have been supporters of his reelection campaign, but who were definitely in need of an encouraging embrace. Governor Romney was seen not holding up his hand to make a point, but rather holding up cases of bottled water to be passed along a volunteer brigade. One photo even showed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Obama sharing what looked like a warm, sincere, completely nonpartisan handshake. One day’s political agenda was all about boosting polling numbers and approval ratings; but the next day’s agenda was about focusing on what really mattered– making a collective effort to boost the spirits of those in need and let them know someone cared.
It’s not just politicians who have had the chance to get some perspective. For most people, our work and personal lives can take on a frenetic pace; and we too quickly become mired in the minutia of every day life. It’s easy to lose track of how everything fits into “The Big Scheme of Things.” All over the country, and especially in South Florida where so many people have ties to the Northeast, people are seeing the devastation that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake and they are taking stock of what matters most to them. As is usually the case when such an unfortunate event occurs, we are all refocusing our perspectives a bit. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Maintaining perspective and managing priorities are skills that require practice. Just like any other skill, they can become rusty if not exercised often enough. While we’re not all yogis who have dedicated entire lifetimes to guided meditation, we do have some control over how we perceive the world we inhabit, but we have to make a conscious effort to do so. We have to occasionally remind ourselves that the sum total of our lives doesn’t boil down to just one opinion, one responsibility or one conflict. There’s more to us than any one solitary element; so if it feels like any one thing has taken center stage in the drama of our lives, we need to make sure it’s the right thing, and if not, we might need a course correction.
No matter how out of focus our perspectives can become, priorities have a way of rearranging themselves and becoming very apparent after a life-changing event. We would all benefit from taking an occasional inventory of what is important in our lives, and we should try to do it before a catastrophe forces our hand. An event like Hurricane Sandy that is powerful enough to make us stop in our tracks is unlikely to become a frequent occurrence– and that’s definitely not a bad thing.