As the lights went out in my Istanbul office building this morning, I thought of all the people without power in the US and throughout the Atlantic due to the recent hurricanes.
In Turkey, when the lights go out, we don’t call anyone for help, we usually don’t even comment on it. We are very used to power outages lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours which end with as little fanfare as they begin. Generally, we don’t start really complaining until they last 12 or more hours. So this morning, when the lights went dark, I simply checked that my computer was plugged into the outlet powered by the generator and went right back to work. When I went downstairs for breakfast and saw the plaza cafes were without power I just walked around the corner and found a place with power and ordered my coffee and croissant there.
In some ways, I think this life-goes-on quality is healthy. Since moving to a country with regular power and water outages I have more perspective on what is really important versus what is merely inconvenient. Is it such a big deal to keep a few candles and bottles of water in the house or to wait a few hours to run the washing machine? These are not life altering changes to our circumstances after all, and I’ve never felt as grateful for the amenities I DO have as when we lose power or water and I am reminded of those who do without every day.
This is, of course, very different from the circumstances being experienced by the victims of the recent hurricanes. I am not comparing a few hours of lights out to the destruction of infrastructure caused by the recent tropical storms. One is an inconvenience, the other is an ongoing crisis.
What I hope is that we don’t become so used to having so many living with the aftereffects of crisis that thought of their plight fades away to be replaced by newer problems. We can be so good at crisis management and pulling each other out of rising floods, but not as good at long-term planning to prevent them or maintaining the focus needed for long-term recovery.
Right now, there is so much coverage of these storms that most of us can’t possibly forget what needs to be done. But what happens when they are replaced in the news cycle? I worry that when that happens, just as we become accustomed to losing power in Istanbul and don’t give it much thought, we will become accustomed to the plight of these storm-struck regions.
Today I’m asking myself when is “getting on with things” healthy and when does it cause an unhealthy lowering of expectations?
When is it necessary to accept our current situation as “normal” and when is that wrong, leading only to a loss of the focus necessary to enact change?
My specialty is helping people transform their lives. I work with you to identify and implement changes that will make you feel more satisfied every day.