“Did you know people are evacuating the building? There’s a bomb threat.”
We’d just broken for lunch during a daylong workshop when a participant came back to the classroom to tell me the news.
“That’s strange,” I said, “I’d have thought the security desk would inform us if we needed to evacuate. I’ll go check with them now.”
As I grabbed the room key and headed up from the basement classroom my thoughts began to swirl. A bomb threat? Here? Someone would have told us, right? What am I responsible to do? Where do I tell people to go?
I reached the security desk and relayed what the participant had told me.
“Technically, the status for this building is business as usual.” the guard said.
“Then why are people evacuating?” I asked.
“Well, because the San Francisco Police Department issued a bulletin for people to avoid the Laurel Heights area,” he said.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but this the UCSF Laurel Heights campus, yes?”
“That’s right, ma’am. So some people are leaving voluntarily since the threat was to 3200 California Street and our address here is 3333.”
I thanked him and walked back to the room faced with the reality that we were squarely in the area people were being told to avoid. Should we leave? Is it foolish to stay? There’s no immediate threat... but that’s life isn’t it? There’s no immediate threat, until there is. No final moment, until it arrives.
I slowed to a stop as more questions came to mind. “If this is the end, what do I need to do? Is there anyone I need to call? Anything I need to do or say?”
The answer that came back was... nothing.
Those I love know that I love them.
I have no regrets. I’m at peace with my mistakes and I own my imperfections.
I have lived an incredibly full, ridiculously charmed life. And if it ended right now - standing in a hallway of the UCSF Laurel Heights campus at 12:09 on a Thursday - that would be okay.
The feeling of peace that came with that realization was the best possible gift I could receive. It’s a gift we can’t buy, and that nobody can give us. Life tasks us with gifting it to ourselves.
As a communication specialist, but more so as a fellow human who will one day no longer be here, my holiday wish for you is this;
Say what you need to say (and do so with compassion).
Do what you’ve been meaning to do (and do so with a sense of purpose).
Make choices today that lead you to a place where if it were over tomorrow, you would have nothing.
With love and a crazy amount of gratitude for whatever time we get - Merry Christmas to all, and to all a great life!
Image Credit: carlballou Getty Images/iStockphoto