I was supposed to call my mom last Monday to talk about her week in Myrtle Beach with my aunt. They were shopping and enjoying the “historic” sites of Myrtle Beach. I was looking forward to chatting with her and hearing about her week. She probably had some news from my aunt about my cousin. We could have made plans for the summer and she could have listed all the great bargains she found. I missed calling her because I was too busy with my own stuff and with the kids and our neighbours.
This Monday, she called me because she knew I would want to know that my aunt and uncle were evacuated from their home in Canyon Creek, Alberta because of wildfires and that she really didn’t know where they were but that they were okay as of Saturday night. We were both anxious and the conversation was almost in code as we telegraphed questions and responses to each other, despite not having talked in more than two weeks.
“David got them last night.”
“They’re okay? Where?”
So on the one hand, I feel silly reflecting that one week ago we would have had a completely frivolous conversation, dishing about shopping. And this week, the retail offerings of Myrtle Beach are a distant memory as I fill my head with wishes for my aunt and uncle’s safety and the safety of their home and community.
But on a less tragic level, I am also sad that I will never have that conversation with my mom. Because life is changing every moment and you can’t go back — and it makes me think, why should I even gab about stuff like that when somebody’s house could be burning down?
It is all very serious. This is the challenge: to enjoy frivolous activities yet constantly maintain the perspective that it could all be over any moment. Maybe the whole point is that every undertaking is so important — doing the dishes, planning a Disney vacation, helping with homework, rescuing wildlife on the Gulf Coast, feeding starving children, or inventing a new renewable energy source — because, regardless of the consequences of the action, the action itself it is so inherently fraught with the danger of ending.
So I am grateful for the moments I get to chat about seemingly meaningless things — those moments are already vital and imbued with meaning because I am living them.