One year ago today I died in a ballistic missile attack on Hawaii launched from North Korea or, in fact, I didn’t. The night before, my flight to Canada is cancelled so the airline put me up in a hotel on the far side of the island. I watch a hula show, drink fluffy topical cocktails and go to bed early. I enjoy my extra evening here, even though I wasn’t planning on being here.
The next morning I wake under warm blankets, a gentle ocean breeze coming through the opened patio doors. As I lie there thinking about whether I would have an afternoon flight or be staying another day, it happens.
An emergency alert is sent to everyone’s cellphone that we are to seek immediate shelter. My phone is off so I don’t get the message immediately. I can hear a bit of commotion outside and wonder what is going on. I stand on the lanai and watch. All of the usual things are happening. There is some talk about people going to the common room to watch the news. Instead I shower, dress, and walk along the beach. I go for a coffee. About 38 minutes later another message arrives saying it is all a false alarm and I’m not going to die after all.
What a relief, especially if I had known what was going on in the first place. I spend the remainder of the morning enjoying the sunshine, and hanging at the tiki bar. People at the bar are saying ‘it’s a great morning to get bombed.’ It truly is a lovely morning. Beside laughing, no one I encounter is giving the messages much thought. Most are just going about their day like nothing happened, which of course it hasn’t. I fly out that afternoon.
Today is one year to the day and I’m again on the island. I’m here thinking about the year that has just past and the year about to begin when I return home later this week. Did I make good use of this free year? Are the plans for the new year a good use of my time? Are the changes I’m making enough? What would I do differently if I knew I had only so much time left? These aren’t the kinds of questions that we think about day-to-day, although I wonder if perhaps we really should pay more attention to them.
So, what to do with this gift of a day? I wonder.