As we watch the pictures of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, I am reminded how little control we have over our lives at certain times. People are killed, including Penn alumna Jessie Streich-Kest, who was crushed when a tree came down while she was walking her dog. Others lost homes, had homes flooded, or are still without power. Here at Penn everything came to a halt. Classes (and on-campus interviews) were cancelled, travel was and is delayed.
Now all are trying to make sense of what happened, and what has been lost. The lesson is to remember that there are times when all of us, governed by appointments, electronic devices, by our very busy-ness, have to give way to forces beyond our control, and our understanding. Whether we are dealing with minor disruptions now or major losses, it’s good to reflect on how illusory control is in a world governed by chance occurrence or natural disaster. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan. Our work in Career Services is predicated on the importance of planning. But just as we must be ready to respond to serendipity, we must also accept the unexpected disaster, or roadblock, and to respond to that with grace and patience and gratitude for those who are doing their best to make things better. We don’t spend much time talking about “first responder” careers, but we are grateful to those who do this work, particularly this week when so many have needed help. We honor them, and we thank them.