~Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
In September of 2011, Hurricane Irene was on its way, hitting states as far north as Maine that ordinarily didn’t experience the wrath of hurricanes. I lived in the Berkshire foothills, which is far enough inland that you wouldn’t think we’d need to worry, but we are surrounded by waterways, and Irene was reported to be as large as Europe! Hurricanes weren’t the norm out here, but we’d had our share of storms.
We knew what to do to prepare.
We tied down what we couldn’t move from outdoors and stored up tons of water, food, and ice. All the stores in surrounding towns had long ago run out of batteries and flashlights, but we already had some stocked up, along with a few hurricane lamps. We charged our phones, laptops, and iPads while we still had power, filled the bathtub with water, closed windows, warned everyone that we might be difficult to reach over the coming days . . .
And then we waited.
One of the draws of becoming a Professional Futurist was to be able to read trends and prepare for the future. Preparation is a necessary step for creating the future we want, but of course, we can only prepare so much. When tornadoes spring up within moments, hurricanes hit with increasing frequency, earthquakes shake the Earth in unexpected places, and Great Recessions tear our world apart, with no end in sight . . . Well, we need more than extra flashlights and water to weather the storm. And besides, who wants to spend life just surviving . . . and waiting?
Which brings me to the other draw of futuring: Learning to create several alternative futures no matter what life throws our way. Transitions, even those we don’t see coming and don’t want, are opportunities to step up and transform our lives in ways we have always longed to do. When life is going along as planned, and everything is safe and familiar, few of us want to risk embarking on something new, even if that new path could fulfill our dreams and our needs.
That is why the worst of times often really are the best of times. When everything around us is changing outside our control, we can take control and change our own lives. We can reinvent ourselves and where we’re headed, creating a future in which our everyday lives fulfill our practical needs and our need to make a difference on this planet. We don’t have to choose between focusing on the trees or the forest. We have the power to re-create both—and flourish. As individuals and as a planet.
Karen Sands, MCC, BCC
Address: PO Box 43 Roxbury, CT 06783-0043
Image credit: NASA