The Unexpected
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The Unexpected

Yesterday was busy!   There were appointments and tasks that took me away from home for several hours.  When I returned, I was hungry and tired.  I had just finished eating and crawled into bed to watch a video when suddenly, the electricity went off!   Everything!   The video froze on my laptop and the only other faint light was coming from my iPhone. I was surprised at how dark my world looked.

As I waited for what I was sure would only be a few minutes before the electricity would be restored I thought about my childhood.  We would often have power outages back then but it wasn’t a problem at all.  We were used to it.  There were lots of candles to light and usually at least one battery-operated flashlight that we would use sparingly in emergencies.  When we went for vacation at the lake, in fact, we didn’t have any electricity.  We used coal oil lamps.

So, I waited and waited and waited.  It was quiet and peaceful.  Then I thought of searching the internet on my phone and found an article stating that there was an unexpected power outage in three of the southern districts of Calgary where I live.  Expectations were that this would be rectified in approximately one and a half hours from the time I did the search.

All of this made me think about the many times in life when unexpected things happen and how they might best be handled  Here are some ideas:

  1. Expect the unexpected – We are so used to having some things go right – like electricity - that we are shocked when they don’t. Weather, loss, and external factors that are out of our control are just that – out of our control.
  2. Don’t panic! Slow down, take cautious actions and breathe deeply. Use self-talk to calm yourself like you would a small child who is afraid.
  3. Consider options – What have you done in the past that might work? Are there resources that you can or should access?  If you don’t know what to do, it is best to not do anything.
  4. Consult with others – Who might be able to provide wise counsel? Is there someone who you could contact for support and ideas?
  5. Accept the loss of control – Sometimes life just happens. Let it go!  You can go back to what you would otherwise be doing later.
  6. Wait peacefully – Perhaps you just need to rest and take some time to adjust before plunging into activity again. Consider this as a time-out.
  7. Expect another unexpected event – I know from experience that when the power is restored, there is usually another very short outage before everything comes on again. One unexpected event can trigger another.
  8. Take time to restore balance – You might have to reset clocks, computers or even relationships when the unexpected arrives. That’s okay.  It’s part of life.
  9. Do an evaluation – What went well? What didn’t go well?  How did you handle the situation? 
  10. Prepare for future events – Are there things that you can do now that might make a future problem easier to cope with? Do you have enough supplies to get your through?  What tools or people can you access to help you plan?  Perhaps working with a therapist will help you plan and gain perspective.
  11. Give thanks – Think about the young boy who was energetically shoveling in the barn. When asked why he was so enthused he replied, “With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” 
  12. Grow and mature – There’s an old expression that claims, “Experience is what we wish was happening to the other guy!” but hard times make us wise and strong.

Hope these ideas will help you to think, prepare and grow so that when the next unexpected event occurs, you will be ready!

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