I had an interesting day today. It brought to mind a line used by Al Pacino in the movie, ‘Scarface’… “Every day above ground is a good day.” I arrived at work today after an extended Memorial Day vacation. Getting into the breakroom at work, I was there perhaps only ten minutes when I overheard an urgent call come over my co-worker’s walkie-talkie. (He happens to be on the Emergency Response Team) It sounded like the message was extremely urgent.
Within a minute the evacuation alarm sounded over the building. We have about three fire-drills a year in our facility that employs over 1,500 people so I figured it was just another drill. I met up with a friend at the exit and we went to the evacuation site near the outside of the building. After about 20 minutes we were told to move about 100 yards away from the building. Ten minutes later the local police, Sheriff, fire department and Sheriff’s helicopter arrived at our facility. We were then told to move as a group to the very other side of the parking lot and although the radios had been silenced we soon found out there was a bomb threat in the building. After about an hour they started passing out water reserves and officially announced there was a bomb and no one was allowed to leave the facility or enter the building. A while later and another announcement was made that the site was to be evacuated until morning.
I had no idea getting out of bed today that all this was to take place. It seemed like any other day. Much like the last time any one of us said good-bye to our loved one not suspecting it was to be the last time we’d ever see them. Ever. Fortunately today no one was hurt. This has not been the case with other bomb threats or tragedies in other parts of the world. Reflecting upon it at the end of the day I am convinced once again of the immediate value we possess with the virtue of tenderness.
So many times we go through life just bouncing from one morning to the next evening doing the things we need to do. Work, school, errands, eat, study, sleep.. all this and every so often in the rush we have something kind or tender to say but we think it silly and tell ourselves we can always bring it up some other day. During our wait outside the building I asked one of my other friends how her weekend had gone. Among other things she’d done, one was that she’d had her hair re-styled. I’m chronic for having too many unspoken words that would do others good to hear. But today I took a specific moment to tell her just how nice her new hairstyle looked. Not a complicated effort, yet it brightened that moment of her day just a bit.
Solomon once wrote, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” Even when we express our care for someone by correcting them it is better than to care for them silently. Even more so it is better to express the tender, caring, concerned, complimentary thoughts we have than to tuck them away silently until the day comes we realize we waited one day too long.. and that person will never hear the tenderness that we kept silent on. As with any virtue it must be handled responsibly. It does not mean we utter everything that crosses our hearts and minds.. in some situations such as conversing with married persons of the opposite sex, some amount of tact and restraint must be applicably used. But with myself, and I dare say most of us, our tendency is not in speaking too much but rather too little.
With my children I have gotten into the habit of being aware to both compliment them and verbally tell them I love them at least once a day when they are with me. Holding or hugging them as well. Sometimes I forget, but by making it a conscious effort I do it more often than not. Yet I must confess that with my friends I too often take their days on this earth for granted. Good things, encouraging things come to my mind and I tuck these thoughts away for a more opportune time. Today’s event with the bomb threat reminded me it is presumptuous on my part to assume such a luxury exists.
As things turned out I was able to spend the later part of the day with my friend having a simple dinner and watching videos. I suppose with all the excitement of the day she just got tired and I later turned to realize she’d fallen asleep during the second movie. I gently woke her and let her know I’d be leaving so she could get to bed and rest. But I had still enjoyed our quiet evening together and I wasn’t so sure she knew that, so I sent her a short e-mail just letting her know I enjoyed her company. I suppose I could have waited a few more days, or brought it up sometime next month. But you never know if that chance will be taken away when you least suspect it.
My Grandmother, whom I interviewed on video-tape several years ago so her great-great grandchildren (she has five currently) can see and know a bit about her said this when I asked her what message did she have for our very large family… “When I die.. and I am not afraid to die, when I die I do not want lots and lots of flowers then. No, … I want to get my flowers.. right now, while I am alive. I want to smell them and hold them. Because when I die, how will I know?” And so it is with the words of encouragement, tenderness and kindness we have to offer so many times during these days of ours spent “above ground.”
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.