I Love……Preparation

I love PREPARATION. I understand that those of you who know me well are giggling as you read this. Note that I did not like saying I love doing the preparing. Quite honestly I love that so many of my friends are uber-preparers and cover my rear so I don’t have to do it myself. But whether I want to do it or not, I appreciate the need to do it.

I spent most of today in a hot air balloon safety seminar. Our balloon association (carolinasballoonassociation.com) holds this seminar every year so that our local pilots and crew learn how to be safer in this sport we love. Certainly there is much preparation that goes into planning an event like this, and having the right speakers and the right subjects does much to make it successful. What I loved about today most, though, was the interaction between balloonists as they helped each other get better at what they do.
Balloonists talk a lot. Safety is a big topic of discussion. One of the hallmarks of safety is preparation. Not only does a pilot and their crew need the right equipment to fly a balloon, they need to know how to use it. Knowing the mechanics of how to fly a balloon  isn’t enough. Judgment us critical. They have to prepare for all of the possibilities. Those possibilities occur both in the sky and on the ground. Dissecting what could happen in both places makes for a better balloonist, because it makes them think through how they would react in a situation before it occurs.
I’m not a great preparer. I’m the woman who throws stuff in a suitcase right before I go out the door for vacation. I have been known to pack for two weeks in Europe in 15 minutes. I have ever been a studier and when in school often went into tests without even reading the whole assignment it covered. I don’t usually make grocery lists, which sometimes means multiple trips to the grocery store to prepare a simple meal.

I admittedly have stressful periods when I wonder if I have done or remembered everything I need to know. There are many moments of panic in my life where I fear, or discover, I am unprepared for the situation.  I am not always unprepared, though. Because I know my shortcomings, I have learned ways to streamline preparation for myself. 
When getting ready to travel, I pack inside out, for example. You start with underwear and work your way out. It doesn’t take much time when you think it through that way. While I may not have read assignments in school, I did go to class and listen. Thankfully I was given a brain that could remember much of what it heard. Instead of fully reading assignments, I got by retaining what went on in the classroom. While at the grocery store I stand and do a mental checklist of what I think I need to prepare the meal I am going to make….and if I don’t know for sure I have something I need at home, I buy extra.
I can’t stress enough the joy of having friends who are excellent preparers. My friend Debbie is like Mary Poppins…..she’ll have a bottomless bag full of everything either she or I or anyone else could possibly need in any situation. It’s amazing. Obviously the secret to good preparation is having friends like Debbie.
At the safety seminar today there were a lot of folks like this. People who opened their carpetbag and freely pulled out their own ballooning experiences, both good and bad, to help other balloonists. They traded stories and tips and ideas and even equipment. Ideas came from the young and old, pilots and crew. The best preparation is collaborative and thorough….even exhaustive.
Maybe we all need personal “safety” seminars, strategizing how we can live our lives in a way that lessens the possibilities of bad things happening. We can surround ourselves with people who chip in with advice, and we learn from their experience. We can look at things from a different perspective, a different angle, with a different set of eyes. We need to think through the possibilities, and how we would react in certain situations, so we aren’t caught off guard should they occur.
It’s said that Benjamin Franklin said that “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” I’m not sure I fully agree with Ben, but I do agree that by failing to prepare our odds at success diminish. Be it safety, or living life, we should go for the best odds. That’s why I love preparation. (Usually!)

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