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Lessons from Navigating Flooded Streets

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Recently, as I was working in downtown Miami, a flash flood warning went into effect for a large part of South Florida. Upon seeing the alerts on my phone, I left and started heading toward my home area. The estimated time of arrival on my GPS kept extending as I approached the exit that I needed to take.

Upon reaching my usual exit, I detoured to an alternative route due to the closure of the main road. The water I drove through on this route kept getting deeper until it rose more than halfway up my car. At that point, I drove my car onto a curb, abandoned it, and rushed to the second floor of a nearby apartment building with a walkway.

Dr. Marcus BrightDr. Marcus BrightI sat on the doorstep of a random apartment to gather myself and update my wife on my whereabouts. I had never experienced such flooding before; it was something I had only witnessed on television. After sitting there for about an hour, I decided that I would walk home no matter how deep the water was, but first, I would give my car a chance to start and try to drive it home.

Somehow, even after being halfway submerged in water for a significant amount of time, the car started. The water on the floorboards was above my ankle as I pressed on the gas and navigated through the high water on the streets until I reached higher ground. At this point, the dashboard in the car had gone completely dark, and the windshield wipers did not work. I made it to the parking lot of a large store, parked, and walked home from there.

Upon reflection, there are three key lessons that have been reinforced as a result of this experience. They are as follows:

1. Don’t ignore your intuition

My intuition earlier in the day was telling me to leave my car in an elevated parking garage downtown and take a mass transit train system in South Florida called the Tri-Rail to a location near my wife’s place of employment, closer to where we live. I overrode my initial intuition and decided to drive anyway.

I also ignored an initial message from the GPS concerning my route home, indicating that the main road connecting to the usual exit I take would be closed at some point. Despite considering taking an early exit that would lead me home, I ultimately decided against it, as it would have require leaving the express lanes early and entering into a period of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Disregarding these signs and not following my initial intuition proved to be mistakes. My experience vividly illustrates the importance of heeding one's intuition. Despite clear signals urging me to opt for safer alternatives, I chose to ignore them, highlighting the repercussions of dismissing inner guidance. In our daily lives, recognizing and respecting these intuitive cues can guide us down a path that ensures our well-being and success.

2. Don’t panic under pressure; you can withstand more than you think.

When I got diverted to the flooded street, the pressure of rising water compounded, and my mind spiraled into worst-case scenarios. Thoughts of catastrophic floods from the news dominated my mind, leading me to focus on escaping the car rather than navigating the flood to reach dry land.

Ultimately, inspired by my desire to be alive for my wife and son, I made a safe decision. However, in retrospect, I could have continued further, as I discovered that both my car and I had more capacity than I initially thought.

In a broader sense, many individuals prematurely halt their pursuit of goals and dreams when they possess untapped potential to go further. We often underestimate our own abilities.

3. Don’t deviate from your main route due to impatience

After encountering a long line of cars at the usual exit on my main road, instead of waiting in line, impatience led me to turn off early onto unfamiliar side streets. This impulsive decision exposed me to significant flooding and steered me away from my desired destination of home.

Deviation from the designated route due to impatience often leads to unforeseen obstacles. My choice to seek shortcuts rather than endure the wait ultimately prolonged my ordeal. This mirrors the tendency in life to succumb to impulsive actions, forsaking long-term gains for fleeting satisfaction. By remaining steadfast on our chosen path, even when progress seems slow, we increase the likelihood of efficiently reaching our goals.

Dr. Marcus Bright is an author and social impact professional.

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