This is Not a Drill

Well, it could be said that after the 39 minutes spent believing something terrible could be happening to my family or community or my natural environment… it couldn’t be said that my weekend is looking up for sure.

Where were you when the missile alarms went off? When you read the words: THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

I was at Elias’ school admissions interview, while sitting with several parents, all of whom had been just been separated from their children.  One minute you’re preoccupied with whether they are going to sit up straight in the interview and the next you’re wondering if its appropriate to barge through a building to look for your kid. It was collectively determined that they would be properly sheltered and I shuffled into the library with everyone else.  I frantically called my husband who was at work. He, of course, was still operating heavy equipment in the middle of no where. “Why are you still working?? You need to seek shelter!” I told him.

What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna go?” This was a rhetorical question, because we both knew he was right, he had no where to go, and the reality was, neither did I. We were sitting in the middle of the ocean, after all. So we said as casual goodbyes as any day. And so I sat clutching my necklace engraved with my children’s names as I examined the library for survival necessities.

And thankfully, it was not a drill, it was a false alarm. The weirdest start to any Saturday and I hope this is the closest I get to war stories… Throughout the day, I’ve seen friends and family respond with anger, surprise, tons of impressive memes and a massive amount of personal reflection shared with many on social media.

So I guess it’s my turn.

Truth is, I haven’t been that afraid of North Korea and those big buttons sitting upon big desks and big egos. Don’t get me wrong. These things are scary realities, thats undeniable. But I just haven’t feared them. Maybe I’ll eat my words one day, or maybe I won’t.  Maybe a real missile will be heading by way one day and I’ll wish I spent more time worrying about missiles. But either way, right or wrong, for now, I won’t live in fear.

Four months ago, Hurricane Maria ripped through many tiny island nations, most of which are poor areas with little resources.  The resulting devastation killed hundreds. It’s aftermath lingers and thousands are still living without the amenities we are take for granted like electricity, clean water and stable infrastructure.

A few days ago, a wall of mud went sliding through a wealthy California neighborhood taking lives and destroying everything in its path. The wealthy part doesn’t matter, of course. But the point is that even the entitled aren’t exempt from the wrath of disaster.  They perhaps get to recover a little quickly but thats a whole other blog post for another time…

The irresponsible people of power are just one of the many forces on this sphere capable of great great great harm. Capable of ending all of this for every one. There are too many things to scare the shit out of us on any given day. In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time-countless sleepless nights-obsessing about all the possibilities.  I am fully capable of living in fear. I can anticipate. I can cater to terror. Like, I’m really good at it. But I can’t do that any more. I won’t.

Instead, I will prepare and I will enjoy.  And thats it.

In retrospect, this was a good “not a drill” drill. A good reminder, about how unprepared we all are–even if you are physically prepared, I don’t think we could ever be mentally prepared. You don’t know where you will be when sudden things occur, or how they occur.  This was a good false alarm in testing our perspective, proving how the switch can flip in a moment and turn the significant into insignificant and the things we take for granted into the most important things (people) that they have always been.

So we buy our water bottles and canned goods and make a plan with our family just in case. We donate what we can–as much as we can–to those who have already suffered greatly. And we wear the realization that bad things could happen like a necklace, a small, yet significant presence amidst the big picture.

But then we leave it at that. Enjoy this world, as it is, in all it’s wonderfulness that it is today, not for what it could be.  Because this is it. This is the time we get, in the place we get to be.  This is not a drill.

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