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Paul Turner: Day before will be like any other

The day before the world changes might be a day much like today.

Most of us will be immersed in our mundane normalcy.

Did I remember to pay the Avista bill? Is this garbage day? So am I supposed to get another shingles vaccination now if I got one five years ago? Need to remember to pick up the dry cleaning. How much gas is in the car?

And so on.

Then it happens. No warning. No alert.

Boom. A devastating act of terrorism. An assassination. A nuclear disaster. Sudden war that hits home.

Something big. Bigger than, say, yet another mass shooting or some climate-change weather disaster. Something so cataclysmic, so once-in-a-generation it imprints a punctuation mark on all our lives.

It’s just a matter of time, some would say. Get your home emergency preparedness plan ready.

That sort of makes you think we would come to cherish our everyday routines, see them as fleeting and transitory. But we don’t. Not really.

Walking the dog. Going to the store to pick up mayonnaise and onions. Bringing in some firewood.

The moments come and go.

It’s probably unrealistic to think we could move through our lives as if we knew we had arrived at the eve of destruction, as an old song put it.

You can’t really treat each load of laundry, every drive-thru coffee as a celebration of the way life used to be. That would be nuts. No one could live like that.

Still, the luxury of daydreaming while undertaking prosaic tasks is exactly the slice of life apt to be universally obliterated by an event marking a societal sea change.

When and if it happens.

Oh sure, we would still do laundry and pick up coffee. But the loop tape running through our minds would be reset to a new anxiety default. Having the mental minutiae of our day supplanted by everyone’s new Topic A, that’s where the change would come.

It isn’t unusual for Americans to remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the 9/11 attacks. But what about Sept. 10, 2001?

The day before the world changes could be a lot like today.

People would visit relatives in the hospital. Others would attend funerals. Couples would break up and then get back together. Children would try to dry their eyes after the vet delivers bad news about the family dog.

The day the world changes could be a lot like tomorrow.

You might be out hiking along a ridgeline, scanning the horizon. You’ll be thinking about something someone said at work. Or about a squeaky-voice impression your daughter did of her mother that still makes you smile, in private anyway.

Then you’ll see something in the distance. Kind of hard to make out. Are those Japanese planes headed for Pearl Harbor? What year is this?

It’s not really practical to be constantly bracing ourselves for the next big thing, the next bad news mega-event. Yet, for some of us, the feeling of inevitability can be hard to shake.

Just a matter of time.

So we live our lives as best we can and try to be alert but not paranoid.

Maybe the people whose job it is to protect us from disaster will succeed. Here’s hoping.

Perhaps today would be a good day to go for a brisk walk. And tomorrow, well, we can worry about that when it gets here.


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