A Harley-Davidson motorbike, washed out to sea by last year’s terrifying Tsunami, made an astonishing journey across the north Pacific from Japan, landing on a remote, Canadian beach this week. The miracle story, complete with a Tsunami-survivor owner, made headlines for one reason – it is an improbable piece of good news, even if a fragment, arising from disaster. The stories also mention the tons of rubbish, the outflow of peoples’ lives, washing up all along the West Coast.
Even the motorcycle owner was not untouched, losing all of his family to the storm.
We have our Tsunami miracle stories too: the heavy smoker who lived to 103, the lottery winner who won with her first-ever ticket, the flea-market buyer who paid $10 for a Rembrandt. The fact is, most of those stories are myths. Even the Harley turned out to be so heavily damaged it really isn’t useful. But more than that, they distract us from the fact that the wave – whether catastrophic illness, or ultimately death – is coming. Most of us adopt an “Ostrich” approach to planning for the inevitable. We may have a spouse, or someone as a Power of Attorney, that we hope will take care of things if we can’t. But mostly, we just believe it won’t happen to us.
If we truly desire to live as independently as possible as long as possible, if we are sincere in our wish not to be a burden to others, and if we want to avoid impoverishment in the process, we have to plan. Do not leave your decisions to others, or everything you fear – dependency, impoverishment, being a burden – will happen. The fact is that while life’s inevitables will come, some will be better prepared than others when the wave crests. Remember those communities in Japan that were protected by sea-walls? While they still suffered loss, it was vastly less than those towns with no defenses.
There is much you can do, even with modest means, to protect yourself, your spouse and your family. I strongly encourage you to do so now, while there is time.