Believe it or not, it was a humbling experience. And a learning experience. An opportunity to realize that you really don’t have to sweat the small stuff.
Last Thursday while eating dinner, my 12-year-old son mentioned that he heard a loud banging noise in the basement. Rather than jump up immediately, I calmly finished dinner. This set the tone for rest of the evening.
When I did finally go downstairs, I spied water on the floor, which was completely unexpected, since we have a sump pump. A sump pump that had met an untimely death during an unseasonable torrential rainstorm in Ohio in late January.
The loud noise was the Christmas tree falling over when its cardboard box got too wet to stand.
The good news is that the Christmas tree fell, because without that, who knows when I would have discovered the mishap. And that there wasn’t feet of water. It was less than an inch.
The other good news is that I didn’t panic. I calmly started taking action, which included calling the plumber and hatching a clean-up plan.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have always have handled it this way. After all, it’s just me and a 12-year-old. So mostly it’s just me. And this kind of surprise occurrence can be overwhelming. But I decided to only do what I could, when I could. And that’s what I did, with clean up beginning on Friday and going through Sunday, with me doing what I could, as I could. (And on Sunday I “hired” my son and my nephew to help me carry out all kinds of garbage and items to be donated.)
When I was going through all of the stuff in the basement – much of which I had no problem simply tossing – I realized that it’s not the stuff in life that’s important. It’s the people we love and care about that are the stuff of life.
While flooded basements are an inconvenience, they’re not the end of the world. And to some degree, neither are crashed cars or houses that blow away in tornadoes, so long a the people we care about are safe and sound.
It’s not to say that these things aren’t sad, because loss is sad. But more important are the people who survive all of life’s little (and big) inconveniences.
So let’s agree with ourselves to focus on what’s real and genuinely important. And we’ll get to the rest as we get to it.