The first year of school for me was at the end of the time-period where Americans lived in fear of nuclear annihilation. I missed most of the era simply because I was too young to understand. However, in my first experience with formal education, I along with others in my California school were instructed in “duck and cover” techniques. It may sound complex, but for most, it was simple. We would hide under our desks when the alarm sounded. We believed and executed this with enthusiasm as if our lives were at stake because we were told that this action would save us from the impact of an atomic bomb landing nearby.
I still remember hitting my head on the underside of my desk in my haste to execute the plan. I also remember the lingering question which remains open. What would I do if I knew the bomb was going to be dropped tomorrow?
While the question has morphed from bombs to car wrecks and heart attacks, the question remains as fresh now as it was when I was six. What would I do if this moment was the last?
With sorrow and the loss which has stayed with me because of friends who passed too soon as a teacher, reminders point me to the lesson answers which I hold close to my heart.
If this moment was my last, I would…
Live as fully and completely as life allowed. I would be fully present in this moment, learning from yesterday while letting it go, considering the future only if it informed the present. I would exercise care, kindness, and love with each opportunity, knowing this is life’s greatest action and gift.
Celebrate love and compassion in all its forms. Following the psalm, “creation and creatures applaud you, God; your holy people bless you,” (Psalm 145.10) I would acknowledge, dance, and revel in each display of beauty, wonder, and love.
Above all, I would be fully attentive to life and individuals around me. Whatever time we have is meant to be used, fully and completely.