This past Saturday morning some DOD employee in Hawaii caused mass panic when he accidentally hit the button to warn the islands of an inbound missile attack. Every phone in Hawaii went off warning of impending doom with the message stating, “This is not a drill.”
I lived in Hawaii for a few years as a teenager. It’s a great place, but not one you want to be in when a nuclear missile hits it. Or maybe, if you’re like Stephen Falken, a character in the movie War Games, you do. “I’ve planned ahead. We’re just three miles from a primary target. A millisecond of brilliant light and we’re vaporized. Much more fortunate than millions who wander sightless through the smoldering aftermath. We’ll be spared the horror of survival.”
I have to be honest and say that I’m in the Dr. Falken camp. With one, small, tweak: I want to be far enough away to get to see the explosion, but close enough for that to be the last thing I see. I have no desire to survive a nuclear holocaust. The movies don’t make it look very fun. (And I would look terrible completely bald. Thanks cracked and poorly remodeled skull.)
The whole situation spurred on thoughts of times I’ve faced crisis in my life. Sometimes I’ve done it with grace and aplomb, other times I’ve completely broken down, but most often I’ve found ways to laugh about it. There is one time I reacted with anger. Although, in my defense, it would be difficult for anyone to not be angered by watching her husband and brother go out to look at the tornado threatening their house while she corralled two toddlers, two dogs and two cats into the closet by herself. I remember yelling at them as they headed out the front door, “How am I supposed to teach these kids to take shelter when you two dumbasses are putting on coats and running out into a tornado?” Admittedly, I was a little jealous they got to go outside while I had to be the adult. Especially since I tend to agree with my brother’s philosophy – he’d rather go out riding a tornado than by being buried under the destruction it leaves in its wake.
I spent a while today perusing social media posts that came out of Hawaii on Saturday. There were all types of reactions, but I found myself drawn to those that contained acceptance of their fate, or silver linings. One dad recorded a goodbye message to his family and then continued his round of golf. Another young man posted he was sharing shelter with none other than Michael Jordan. Still another described checking his phone, and deciding to go back to sleep. What better way to go gentle into that good night?
The post I felt the most kinship with was actually a text from a father to his son. Dad was in Hawaii on vacation, while the son was back on the mainland (the proper name for the continental U.S. if you’re from Hawaii) concerned for his father’s safety. Upon learning of the missile threat, the dad did the only sensible thing he could think of: he walked through the chaos of the front lobby as people ran for their lives, went to the dining room, and took advantage of the short breakfast buffet line. That, ladies and gentleman, is my kind of guy. If we’re going to die, let’s do it with a full stomach, mimosa in hand, in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
These days the world is a scary place. But I refuse to let it stop me from enjoying life and taking advantage of fortuitous circumstance. I hope you’ll join me in embracing the positive, and giving a big middle finger to the negative. If so, I’ll be sure to save you some coconut pancakes, and a mimosa, of course.