Friday, September 17, 2010


On Thursday, September 9th, a thirty inch natural gas main exploded in San Bruno.

Homes were damaged and destroyed and average folks tossed into a whirlwind of fear, shock,

anger, sadness and pain. Lives were lost, some quite young, and whatever the "plan" had been

for people living in the area, it changed at that moment.

On September 11th, 2001, thousands of lives were lost, tens of thousands directly affected,

and a nation thrown into shock. This wasn't an accident or natural disaster; it was a deliberate

action perpetrated by evil souls deluded into thinking they were acting in God's name. Just as

we remember that day nine years ago, the community in San Bruno will remember what

happened on that Thursday night in September and everyone will reflect on how their lives

were changed and how the "plan" is now different in some way.

There is a story in the gospels about a man who has a huge harvest and decides to tear his

silos down to build bigger ones to hold all his bounty. Jesus seems amused by his actions and

reminds his audience the man dies before the new silos are finished. Someone once told me,

" plans while God laughs."

A new program has made its debut on Showtime called "The Big C". It is about a teacher

who discovers she has terminal cancer and how this knowledge changes her. She doesn't tell

anyone. She changes priorities in her life, approaches her students and her job with new eyes.

She takes chances and makes choices she might have been afraid to make before. Her attitude

towards her husband and family takes on a whole different perspective. It's a classic take on

the question, "...if you knew you only had a week left to live, what would you do?"

When we are young, we think we are immortal. We take chances and foolish risks as we

see life as an endless series of events and possibilities. When I turned fifty, I went into a huge

depression realizing the majority of my life was over and I was on the downside of the curve.

For each person, the progression is different, but we all go through it. Unfortunately, I didn't

learn enough. It didn't hit me hard enough. I didn't come to appreciate all I had been given

and proceeded to make rash, reckless, and silly decisions more in tune with an adolescent

than a mature adult.

We are not guaranteed tomorrow. I don't want to get into a political screed on

September 11th and terrorism and Islam and an analysis on all the bad decisions we made as

a country after the events of that day. People went to work that day full of plans for the future.

People were just sitting down for dinner, or watching the first NFL game of the season, or just

arriving home from work in San Bruno when their world exploded in flames. If you had told

either group what was going to happen a day ahead of time, how do you think that knowledge

would have changed their "plans"? What about those who survived? Will these events change

how they view the future? Decisions which have been put on hold, abandoned, or ignored;

will they be revisited? There but for the grace of God go I; does this insight change how we

plan and act?

In my world time has stopped. It is as if it's a different dimension or as if I've gone

through a wormhole into a different space/time continuum. In this world, time has slowed

down to a crawl. In the real world, your world, your day is so crammed you wish you had

another hour or even an extra ten minutes. Here, anything which speeds up time is welcome.

You have planners and schedules and calendars and parent's meetings, school events, painting

and pulling weeds, and none of you get enough sleep. You put off until tomorrow anything
which doesn't need immediate attention. The things easiest to delay or push off until later are

usually the people in our lives. We put off the "date" night. We tell ourselves we will spend

special time with our children or loved ones eventually. We seek the path of least resistance;

and on that path people we love are willing to wait, so they do. Relationships require work,

friendships have to be maintained, and our loved ones need to be loved. Yet, there is always

"manana". The events in San Bruno and New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania,

remind us we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. I can tell you from personal experience, there is

nothing worse than taking your life and the people who love you for granted; and waking up to

have it all taken away by chance, accident, or your own foolish choices and sins. You suddenly

have crystal clear insight as to what is really important; but there isn't anything you can do

about it.

On the night of September 11th, 2001, I spent three hours talking politics and foreign

policy and asking why anyone would want to do this to us. I got into arguments. My patriotism

was questioned and cries of prejudice and bigotry were heard. My bosses called me up saying

this was a time for consolation and reflection and said I was committing career suicide. I was

wrong and they were right. It was a time to reflect and to remind those listening how elusive

the future really is. It was an opportunity to issue a wake-up call to all of us, especially me, to

live today; don't take anything for granted and be aware the end will come like a thief in the

night and we will never know when it will happen.

My heart and prayers go out to all those affected in San Bruno and on September 11th.

I am so thankful members of my family emerged shaken but unhurt. Please don't make the

mistake I made and put off until tomorrow the really important actions you should do today.

Kiss your wife, husband, or significant other. Hug and hold your children and loved ones. Tell

good friends they are loved and live with the guarantee nothing is guaranteed. I welcome

your comments. Please send them to

No comments:

Post a Comment