Friday, September 1, 2017

Life in Perspective

I work with a Program Committee of three, planning and organizing a series of continuing education courses, our target group retirees. Sometimes we get wrapped up in details and worry about minor issues as if they were major catastrophes. Take yesterday’s class

The documentary film was the last of a summer series. To end with a bang, so to speak, we went beyond the usual. In addition to showing an excellent documentary (pre-screened by us, award winner, interesting topic) we planned snacks – fruit and mini-cheesecakes (small squares from Sam’s Club – they are REALLY good-too good…) and also engaged a quartet to play following the movie.

The day before the class we found out the musicians believed they were to show up at 3:00 p.m. – exactly the time the program ended.

Jim, the instructor, called me concerned and befuddled. What do we do?

We discussed the dilemma. We both felt stressed, worried the afternoon would be a muddled failure. Then Jim put the situation in perspective, matter-of-factly stating, “With what’s going on in Houston, this is nothing.”

He was right. We would handle the situation best we could and move on.

A phone call urged the men (the quartet was all male) to arrive half an hour beforehand, but the main man could not guarantee everyone could roll in early.

Jim and I prepared contingency plans. We would delay the start of the movie. I could waste time buy time talking about the fall class lineup, with the food served first rather than after the movie, although people may just have eaten lunch and would probably enjoy the treat an hour and a half later – after the film.

Arriving early to ensure a glitch-free set up (projector, movie, chairs, food), the man in charge of the venue (a local church) was surprised when he noticed the movie to be presented. He had attended the movie’s premiere, knew the main character’s family and would be happy to speak for a few minutes. Now there was no need for me to delay the start of the film.

Following a brief introduction the movie began. Then the nosh materialized and our impromptu speaker made a few comments about his connection to the movie. The musicians appeared before the end of the movie and set up while folks got their food…the audience loved the movie, the munchies and the music.

As veterans of Superstorm Sandy, we have an inkling what is ahead for the thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Those who lost most if not all of their possessions face financial difficulties even if they have flood insurance, which most do not, and will be dislocated for weeks and probably months.

The little hiccups faced in our everyday lives pale compared to the enormity of the challenges Harvey victims now confront.

Sometimes we need life to be placed in perspective.

Here is a link to a New York Times article listing charities accepting donations for Harvey victims, and how to avoid being scammed.