Defining Life and Materialism Within a Hurricane
We truly don’t appreciate everything we have until the day comes when it can all be taken away from us.
Exactly one week ago I was getting ready to flee South Florida, away from the dangers of Hurricane Irma, a historically large storm in the Atlantic. During the weekend it would sweep through South Florida as a category five, with 185 mph speeds, making its way north to – as the Weather Channel stated – “Cream us.”
With 650,000 evacuees running from destruction, I knew that Miami – where my home is – wasn’t a safe place for my mother and me.
I filled two suitcases and a backpack with what I felt was my whole life; decisions on what I felt were my most cherished items and a whirlwind of emotions that dragged me through a non-stop waterfall of tears running down my eyes. While wrapping and lifting the furniture in the apartment, I watched the TV and couldn’t believe this monster was on the way. When we finished, we got in ours cars and drove.
We work every day to create a world for ourselves and we instinctively link to material items we acquire throughout our life, and with time, some of them generate emotions.
So I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that when I closed that door, I might come back to nothing close to what I think of as my life, but most importantly, I couldn’t stop thinking about life itself and about losing mine.
My family and I would be in my hometown, Coral Springs, which is in Broward County; about 45 minutes northwest of Miami. We would also feel the impact. We were also at risk of a tragedy; of the roof flying off; of no power for days or water.
But regardless of the sadness of leaving my home behind, one thing kept playing back in my head over and over again: death.
I had never understood what it was to fear for your life and for your family’s. But I was feeling it, and there is no other adjective to properly describe it other than ‘horribly petrifying,’ and I continued in panic all throughout the weekend.
At first it was the fear of leaving ‘my life’ behind. Then it transitioned into the feeling of ‘what if I die?” When Saturday night arrived we were informed that the hurricane would hit as a category four and we were out of the cone. When it passed it was the fear of ‘What am I going to have to deal with when I go back home?’ It was a nonstop fluster of uncertainty which ended in me arriving to a home that hadn’t been impacted seeming as if nothing had ever happened.
As I sat there Tuesday morning and looked at my apartment, at my belongings, at my life, and at a constant stare of a television and phone full of stories of people who had lost it all, of friends who had no power, no water, no nothing, I realized that they still had everything. They had life, and that’s all they cared about, and truthfully, that’s all I care about too.
Then it hit me: If the hurricane would have come, and if it would have hit us full swing an taken everything I own, what it wouldn’t have taken ever was my feelings, the love I’ve given and taken, the experiences I’ve had and the moments I’ve lived. That’s truly what a life well lived entails, not material belongings.
You can call it materialism, but it’s not an attachment to items. It’s the attachment to their meaning, but their meaning equals to nothing if they don’t fill your heart or motivate you to do more for others.
If I die tomorrow, nothing will I take with me besides how I made others feel, the sacrifices that I made for those that I love and the moments in which I laughed until my stomach hurt, so that’s what we should spend our lives investing in. Everything else can be taken away from you whether you like it or not.
So live more, laugh often, connect with lots of amazing people, and don’t take your experiences for granted. That’s the only thing that is irreplaceable and that nobody can take from you.