“Be Prepared”

Any woman who was ever once a Brownie probably remembers that this was our motto. I think it was supposed to comfort us in that if we were ever lost alone in the woods, not to worry, we would be prepared to tie knots and identify poisonous wild plants. Or that we would be prepared to transform  used 45s and some floral putty into a Mother’s Day gift or a powder puff, two buttons and pipe cleaner into a cute bunny pin.  But while Grey and Tawny Owls never mentioned it to us at the time, truly being prepared can have an enormous effect on the broader parts of one’s life.

Not long ago, I was having a text conversation with a long distance friend and I mentioned I was on my way home from work. He got his stern dad voice on  (yeah, I can tell that in a text from him) and told me he hoped I wasn’t driving. I wasn’t. Public transit around here won’t let me take the wheel, no matter how much I ask. But that he thought I would text while driving made me wonder just how dumb he thought I was until I realized something about our history. And texted him that no, I wasn’t driving, but that he’d think so…

“Because I appear far more reckless than I actually am. “

“YES”…he shot back in CAPS. “You’ve always been that way.”

First, he’s not the CAPS type.

He gets to say “always.” He met me when I was 17.

And he’s right. But there’s a reason I can meander through life seeming reckless and fancy free—and apparently I always have.

It’s because I am prepared. Oh, I am sooo prepared.

Being ready for whatever might happen makes it easier to embrace the unknown. It means controlling the things you can control (and recognizing what a short list that is) so you have the energy and strength to deal with all the things you can’t. Winter clothes are ready and waiting so I don’t care if it gets cold, I can enjoy the beauty of the snow. Candles and flashlights at the ready make a power outage wonderfully romantic. A couple months’ salary in a savings account and a list of the first ten people I’d call if I lost my job tomorrow turns what could be a crisis into a myriad of possibilities.

Don’t get me wrong–being prepared doesn’t make one a prepper, although the term makes me smile. But these people aren’t freeing themselves up to embrace life; they’re hedging their bets against it.  I’d rather perish in whatever cataclysmic event comes our way than live in a underground silo. Subways are the most underground I’m willing to go. And I don’t see the reason to hoard; when I do buy in bulk, usually the stuff goes bad before I can get around to using it all.  It took us forever to work our way through all the bottled water, peanut butter and toilet paper we bought late in 1999.

Being prepared doesn’t take as much time or energy as you’d think. I get a lot of lot of help too. My love is even more serious about being prepared. She chided herself this morning for not calling the guy who puts on our winter tires. Normally we have them on by Canadian Thanksgiving, but it was so summer-like this year, we got sloppy. They’re in the car now in case the guy can do it tomorrow. Obsessive? A little. But we’ll never get caught sliding into a ditch like so many during the first rough snowstorm. We can smile and pick up hot chocolate for the long, slow ride home.

It helps too, that I love lists and schedules and the creating of both. The first app I downloaded on my new iPad Mini was the Moleskein one that lets you create unlimited notebooks and lists, then sort and label them all. Bliss. I love making check marks on things that done. I picked a profession that runs on deadlines. I don’t think that was an accident.

Right now tonight’s Sunday dinner pork loin is simmering away in the stove (yes, of course this blog is written in advance as well!) and tomorrow’s meat loaves are made, two of them so there’s plenty for sandwiches. Potatoes and vegetables cleaned and refrigerated for both meals.  Monday is a rough day that kicks off a busy week, I like to make it easier if I can. There was a time when I made five meals for freezing every Sunday but as we’ve aged, we find a big hot meal every night is just too much. So I leave a little room for impulse soup night or breakfast for dinner.

My clothes for the next day are always laid out the night before. I arise before 5 a.m.  and I’m simply not functioning at a sufficient level to go searching for a specific pair of shoes or scarf or earrings necessary to finish an outfit. I keep a small cache of chocolate, nuts and dried fruit in my knapsack, an emergency $20 in my wallet and a few pairs of hosiery at work. Extra shoes too and when I used to spend longer hours in my office, I had shower supplies and a fresh outfit or two. Because you never know.

That’s the thing. You never know.  And that’s ok. As long as you’re prepared for the things you can anticipate, you’ll have a calm mind to figure out the rest. Being ready makes you fearless. And to me, fearlessness is sexy, it’s  powerful, it’s an ideal state of being. I aspire to fearlessness.  it’s life lived with the sound turned up.

Not having to worry if I’m equipped to handle the mundane everyday stuff of life frees me up to leave the rest to chance. It may sound cliche, but I think life should be an adventure.

And you can bet I’ll be properly packed for it.

My Brownie troupe, circa 1967.  The arrow is pointed at my head.

My Brownie troupe, circa 1967. The arrow is pointed at my head.


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