Two days ago, during a meeting, I got the dreaded phone call from kindergarten.
“She’s had an anaphylactic reaction”, they said. “The ambulance is on its way. How soon can you get here?”
It turns out they meant an allergic reaction, thankfully, but still that call was enough to send my heart pounding, and see me racing to collect my things in a slightly delirious haste, and run out the door.
But even though this unfortunate mistake of both kindergarten parent who sent birthday party food in with nuts accidentally, and teacher who didn’t check, meant that my child’s face swelled up and she threw up three times, I am grateful, once crises are over, that they come along at all.
I am grateful because nothing puts your true priorities into focus more blindingly than the experience of running down the street desperately trying to hail a taxi so you can get to your sick child’s side.
At that moment, it’s crystal clear what’s really important. And I’m ashamed to say that of late, it is mostly these crises that remind me. I tend to forget and become focussed on what doesn’t really matter. Just that morning I had a thought, as I scurried around Uni doing this and that, being “busy”, that I was so absorbed in work that I wasn’t really living the moment.
But during an emergency, I suddenly remember.
My laptop and what’s on it isn’t the most important thing. I couldn’t care less at that point.
Money isn’t the most important thing.
Having clean floors is definitely not important.
The most important, the dearest and most precious things to me, are the people that I love, and making them happy and safe. Being with them.
Health is important. So valuable and so underappreciated, until it’s gone.
Time is important. Time to spend with the cherished ones in your life. Living each moment to its fullest.
I’m not saying that it’s good to live with crisis after crisis, unresolved; this is extremely stressful and damaging and sadly, is the reality for many people. Neither am I suggesting that we should neglect planning for the future, and managing our finances. These things clearly are necessary, though they tend to pale in comparison when the safety of a loved one is at stake. Who would rather have lots of money in the bank than be able to hold a frightened but healthy and alive child in their arms, or speak to Mum on the phone to hear that her biopsy results were all normal?
Our little crisis settled quickly, with the help of antihistamines, the reassurance of the nice paramedics, and lots of TLC. The appropriate steps have been initiated to strengthen the policy around not bringing nuts in. The poor parent rang me to apologise from the bottom of her heart, which I appreciated.
Crises like these are what I call my “reset” button. All the rubbish that was building up in my head is now cleared. I’m back on track again. But I don’t want to rely on crises to help me rethink my priorities, so I’m (re) starting a daily gratitude practice, to ensure that I’m fully appreciating and living every single day instead of missing out. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
What about you? What helps you to “reset” your priorities?