Like most people, I've been through some changes at my job in the past year. Between the hundreds of layoffs and multiple company re-orgs over the past 11 months, employee morale is at an all-time low. Everyone is struggling to stay motivated, with the rumor mill churning out weekly reports of gloom and doom yet to come.
Although I escaped the company cuts (so far), I did fall victim to the effects of the negativity and uncertainty that still permeates the air. It's very easy to get caught up in all of it. The worry about losing your job. Seeing good people walked out of the building, knowing that they have small kids to feed and elderly parents to care for at a time when jobs are scarce. Thankful that it wasn't me.
And I started taking it home with me, which is something I promised I wouldn't do. I filled our home with the negativity of it all. And seemed to matter, seemed so important to gripe and wallow in all of it, until just a few weeks ago when I turned on my cell phone to read "EMERGENCY" - a text from my 23-year old daughter.
My husband and I had just arrived in Michigan, far from our home in the suburbs of Atlanta, when I read the message. When I called her back, I could barely hear her over the pounding rain. She was crying hysterically, but what I heard was, "I lost my car. A wave of water hit my car. I was in it. I thought I was going to die."
When we left that morning, parts of the city and surrounding areas had flooded, but we thought it was over. By evening, when my daughter was driving home from work, the swell of the rivers and the overflow of water due to clogged-up sewers, caused the road she was traveling on to suddenly be overtaken by a wave of water. I still don't know where it came from but within seconds the water was high enough to flood her engine. The door wouldn't open and the windows wouldn't open.
Hearing all the details, after our return, terrified me. Thinking of my child trapped in a car, with water rising, feeling helpless, feeling as though she was going to drown, was too much. Watching her as she told the story, I could see she was reliving it. I could see how scared she must have been.
To make a long story short, she managed to get out. The ignition turned once, enough for her to get the window down and get out. I don't even know how to explain how scared I was, and still am when I think about it, at the idea of her trapped in that car. In the moment that she recounted the horrific events of that evening, I held my breath. The thought of losing her too much to bear.
It's easy to tell that there is a lesson for me in this. My focus has been on the wrong things. I've snapped at those who love me because I had a bad day at work. I know it all sounds very corny and cliche, but you really do have to live in the moment because just when you think that you have it all figured out, that you're coasting along, things change. It's the only thing that's constant. That, and breathing. I'm going to start appreciating both just a little more.