Every day I prepare to leave the house I look at the weather forecast and use the unfolding climate for that day to decide how I’ll dress for that day. If it rains or is raining (a common occurrence during UK winters!), I’ll ensure I’m wearing my winter coat or have alternative protection in the form of my umbrella. If only life was like that – we could scroll through what circumstances would come next and prepare ourselves – and our hearts – accordingly. For many people, more often than we would like, circumstances turn for the worst and thus, an uphill battle begins. A cancer diagnosis, a sudden redundancy, a loss in the family, a theft at home or even on the street. Life is mad and maddening, it loves to throw us curveballs that do NOT discriminate and are probably more frequent than we tell ourselves. When these things happen they can do so out of the blue and unfold at a flash of light. Your landlord raises your rent and suddenly you’re in arrears and out wandering the streets with all your belongings in one suitcase.
Reading the above just now, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Yet, despite knowing all this, it’s interesting that we often do not prepare as if those things may even happen to us. We read stories and often go ‘that’s horrible for them’ but suffer some sort of dissonance and never imagine we could be wearing those shoes ourselves. I recall roughly a scene from the book My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult where the protagonist’s dad, who is a firefighter, is at the scene of a house where a fire happened. He asks the house owners if they had insurance and they admit they don’t because they never thought something like that would happen to them. As someone who is going through a bad situation, one of those situations he thought would never happen to him (one of his daughters has cancer) he thinks to himself about the homeowner – what a privilege it is to think like that.
There’s a prominent fallacy that if we prepare for the worst – i.e. taking out life insurance, maybe even telling our family our wishes for funeral arrangements, then we’re somehow tempting fate or bringing bad ‘voodoo’ our way. This belief is prevalent in some communities more than others (I’ve even come across is many a time myself) but I believe it can be harmful. As adults, if it can be afforded, we need to be taking out life insurance and taking other necessary steps to shield ourselves and our loved ones from worst-case scenarios. It’s what I can only describe as being wise, people can be cruel and so can life in general. However, we don’t have control over other people or life in general so we need to do what we can with what we can control.