Gustav growls, doesn’t bite

After intense preparations, mandatory evacuations and a rescheduled LSU Tigers football season opener, Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana as a category 2 and is slowly finishing its route up through the state. The people that have lived in Southeastern Louisiana their whole lives know the process- nail boards to the windows, fill the hurricane lamps, and stock up on water, vienna sausages and crackers. But after Katrina hit three years ago, this time around was different.

This time, when it was time to get out, most people did. This time, people (my family included) added text messaging to their cell phone plans so that even if they couldn’t call, they could send a message to reassure loved ones of their safety. This time, the Saints went marching out well before the storms hit – and no one was allowed to use their home, the Superdome, either.

But this time, despite power outages for more than 800,000 homes, and despite giant oak trees hundreds of years old toppling to the ground like jenga blocks, things are “okay.”

I’m so thankful. Now if only CNN would take heed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s warning that this is not an overnight process. It’s not over yet. Then why does the top stories list have not one single story about Gustav? Unbelievable.

I am thankful.

What really matters?

Everyday at work I read the news and the blogs, which cover all manner of topics. The top headlines are the ones we’ve been seeing 24/7, for months on end: the Bush Administration slowly chipping away at our Constitutional liberties, racist hate crimes, political scandals, and the scary number of young female celebrities engaging in dangerous and rebellious behavior, poisoning the minds of our youth.

We get E-mail alerts from organizations we vaguely remember signing up for, or even the ones we ardently support, asking us for one more donation to give children healthcare, to stop the war, to provide internet access to all. Our friends and family send us the latest YouTube video bashing Bush, applauding Gore, and sexualizing Obama. People we don’t even know invite us to Facebook groups and causes like “Stop Global Warming” and “Boycott D.C. Taxis.”

But when you think about it, none of these things matter to the average person. On the surface, we all want to stop spending billions on the war, we want to save healthcare, and make sure people are punished for their crimes. But on the inside, we’re thinking about if we’re going to have enough time to stop at the store on the way home to grab more milk, if we’ll get our post-work workout in, and oh yeah, what’s on TV tonight? And we’re thinking about what we’re going to be doing on Friday and if we remembered to pay our bills online. I admit, I think all of these things and more. Sometimes I care about nothing more than getting home to eat my dinner and check the latest releases on Amazon.

None of this is wrong of course. People prioritize their lives in different ways, and some days, some things are more important than others. I’d like to do an experiment where in one work day, people write down their thoughts and actions, and see how much of it is actually work-related and how much is personal stuff. When we’re supposed to be saving the world, are we really shopping for a new winter coat or making a mental grocery list?

When it comes down to it, the things that matter most to me at the end of the day are my relationships with my friends and family, and if I got the things accomplished I wanted to. Did I eat? Did I exercise, shower? Did I get that E-mail I was waiting for?

Something to ponder. What really matters to you?