The other day, I came out to my car while on a road trip to see family, and found that my battery was totally dead—not one light except the dim vanity light on passenger sun shield—not one “bing, bong” from any warning system—absolutely dead. I thought, “Well, that’s OK, I have a set of jumper cables in the trunk and I can use my cousin’s car to jump my battery.” Ah, the plans of mice and humanity. The access to the trunk was only available by pressing either my key fob or a button on the dash—and they were powered by—you guessed it—the battery.
Louis Pasteur, the famous French physician, is well know for having solved the mysteries of rabies and anthrax and contributed to the development of the first vaccines. His work in germ theory also led to progress in antiseptic surgery and laid the foundation for the modern sciences of biology, biochemistry, and immunology. A lesser-known contribution to humanity was his insights into germs and fermentation that led to the large-scale brewing of beer!
Dr. Pasteur uttered the phrase, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” For the scientist this speaks to the random event that might pass by most people’s observation but may present a great opportunity for the few who can recognize the potential for a worthwhile discovery.
The motto that I learned as a Boy Scout presents a similar concept. “Be Prepared.” In Scouting that meant learning how to swim and perform lifesaving maneuvers or being versed in basic first aid or knowing how to survive if lost in the woods, and so on. Pasteur’s comment referred to capitalizing on some random event so that we can learn something from it, while Scouting preparedness addresses the issue of how to be of assistance to oneself or others through practice and anticipation of an accident or incident that suddenly unfolds. Through being prepared the scientist wants to notice a new phenomenon’s potential, while the scout wants to retrieve former training to meet a challenge that is at least a possibility. They seem like two sides of the preparedness coin.
Few of us will have the opportunity to capitalize on an unanticipated event, as did Louis Pasteur…but most of us can prepare for both the dreaded and dreamt-of event that is likely to come at some stage of life. Are you prepared for the event that suddenly bursts into your life? How prepared might you have been for the latest events in our world – pandemic, political strife, or elements of racism in our lives that have been identified lately? Just as a scout practices his knots, have you practiced for the turning point in your life that may come rarely, but can still be anticipated to some degree. Maybe you have jumper cables in the trunk of your car, so to speak. I have mine in the trunk so that I can help the other driver, but little did I think I would need them. Many people obtain CPR training, keep it current and perhaps keep a first aid kit in the car, “just in case.” It’s rare that you have to use it, but many folks learn the Heimlich Maneuver—I’ve had to use it twice in that past two years!
Conversely, are you prepared for those rare moments in life that we hope for? How is that you will deal with the advent of your child obtaining his/her driver’s license, or his/her graduation from school or college. Are you ready for that moment when your child walks down the aisle on their wedding day? Have you prepared for the eventuality of retirement through financial planning or by developing hobbies that can carry over into later life? How about those issues of preparation for illness or death? Have you gotten your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Last Will and Testament signed and distributed to those who might need to make decisions for you when and if your can’t—and have you had the discussion with them about your wishes?
In our spiritual life preparedness can take many forms. Some will read a holy book or develop the practice of prayer—so that when they face a crisis, they are already fluent in the language of faith. Some listen to music or write in a journal so that they can cultivate a sense of calm and perspective that will serve them when stressful event arrives. Others join a faith community so that when family member moves away or dies, they have a broader group with who to share life’s joys and sorrows.
How prepared are you, inwardly, for the next challenge that may assault your body, mind and/or spirit?