In a movie I watched recently, two strangers face the literal end of the world together. It was quite beautiful, really. And it got me thinking about what I would do if in the news today we were informed that an asteroid was on-pace to impact the earth with certain annihilation in the next 24 hours. What would I want to do?
I knew right away I wouldn’t want to be at my computer writing, which surprised me in some ways since writing is sort of one of my things. I also knew I wouldn’t care about searching for a great job anymore. I wouldn’t care about solving the many social issues that weigh heavy on my conscience almost constantly, because I’d know there wouldn’t really be much I could do in that amount of time. My goals would be much smaller, much simpler.
What would I want to do with the last 24 hours of our collective lives here on earth? I made a quick list of 5 things.
1. I’d want to walk my kids to school through my neighborhood. I mark my days by this walk. Or walk them home — in September when the air is still warm but the nights are cool enough to trick the trees into changing costumes from green to ruddy oranges, golden, and crimson. The sun would slant through the branches and between the two-story houses. The breeze would clear the uneven sidewalks of slowly dropping leaves. The girls’ voices would fall and rise, interrupting each other in the excitement over their days – tales of playground triumphs, classroom pedagogy, and lunchtime disappointments.
2. I’d want to sit at a football game. High school. Also in September, or maybe October when a mid-weight jacket is still enough but claps are muted by gloves. The band would play and the teams would battle. We’d eat stadium food and catch up with our neighbors. We’d laugh and cheer and groan. The photo above is from a baseball game – it doesn’t quite take me to the same happy place but close.
3. I’d want to be on a road trip with my husband. The sun would be shining in our windows and he’d be playing his latest musical find. We’d be talking about the future – or, considering the asteroid, maybe we’d be talking about our shared past. We’d be holding hands and maybe snacking. We’d have a long way to go but it would feel like we were almost there.
4. I’d want to nap with a newborn on my chest. Almost anywhere, but a padded porch swing might be perfect.
5. I’d want to visit the ocean. Or a sea. Not on a crowded sandy beach but on an island in Sweden where smooth boulders meet the salt water and an ancient fortress overlooks a storybook village. I’d want to fika there with every person I have ever liked or loved.
What do I notice about this list, the list that jumped first into my mind? It’s really not so much a wish list of things I’d like to do but a celebration of things I’ve already done. Things I know I love. Not a list of longing for unfulfilled desires (although I have some of those) but a list of beautiful moments I’d like to savor again. I wonder what this says about me?
But I think I’m glad.
How about you? What would be on your quick list? (Try to think of this as a rhetorical exercise and not a literal apocalyptic scenario. Otherwise things are going to get a little too intense.)