Nothing clarifies thoughts and actions like a life-and-death situation. As I write this, Hurricane Sandy has smashed into the Eastern U.S. and is at this moment churning its way through millions of lives. And today the media is filled with stories of first responders and ordinary citizens pulling together, focusing their energies and fighting to save lives and property.
Everyone is acting on this unspoken premise: Now is not the time for hand-wringing, complaining, or agonizing over “Why here?… Why now? Why us?” Instead, it’s a time to take action to save lives and prevent as much injury and damage as possible.
Hurricane Sandy, for all its horrific destruction, is shining a light on the amazing power of non-resistance to achieve appropriate results. Determined to survive, people in the storm’s path quickly move through surrender (Resistance is, after all, truly futile!) to acceptance (OK. We can’t change this. It’s happening. It is what it is.) to focused action (What’s the next, most important action… and the next… and the next?). The result: Lives are saved, property damage is mitigated, and a return path to normalcy is quickly charted.
Everyone on the scene realizes that to deny the reality of the situation, to bemoan past issues, or to wistfully imagine an alternate future makes no sense in this emergency! They intuitively realize that to allow themselves to get tangled up in denial, or agonize over what might have been or what ought to be, simply wastes time and drains away energy that could be used to solve immediate, life-or-death problems.
Deepak Chopra, in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, describes how important it is to accept what is and not get caught up fighting against reality: “This means that your acceptance of this moment is total and complete. You accept things as they are, not as you wish they were in this moment. This is important to understand. You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.” His point: to make clear-eyed, effective decisions about this moment you simply can’t struggle against reality and waste energy wishing things weren’t so. Only then will you make the best choices and have the strength to carry out these choices.
Of course this hurricane is a terrible tragedy. But, at the same time, it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves of the latent wisdom within us all that can propel ordinary folks to become local heroes who are able to dispense with their angst, quickly accept what is, and get on with the right course of action.
We would all do well to listen with our hearts as the media present us with examples of survivors and first responders who push back against Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. And we should ask ourselves, “What can I learn from them about surrender, acceptance, and focused action?”
* Photo by Creative Commons/mike609 via ATVN (Annenberg TV News), USC/Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, http://www.atvn.org/news/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-strikes-close-home