Running for our lives

On St. Patrick’s Day, I almost sent an email with this subject line…

“Someone is going to die today. Don’t let it be you!”

Sadly, many people die on St. Patrick’s Day due to excessive drinking. Deaths from drunk driving always spike around St. Patrick’s Day.

On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, I was actually thinking about this and wanted to email a warning. The gist of my message was going to be… One day of fun isn’t worth losing your life over. I ended up deciding against sending this email thinking nobody likes a “Robbie Downer.”

Later that same day, I was at our local mall with my family when two different shootings occurred. We were very close to the second shooting and we all ran for our lives.

When I was going to send the email in the morning, I didn’t think it would be me who died. I also didn’t think it would be my wife or daughters.

The reason why is because we weren’t going to any bars. We weren’t drinking or partying, and we actually planned to avoid all the craziness by going to the mall. We were operating under the “YODO” philosophy of You Only Die Once, which is the opposite of YOLO.

Thankfully, we’re all ok physically. However, I think we’re all a little shook mentally.

Something changes inside of you when you see your loved ones running for their lives. Something changes inside of you when you run for your life.

To be clear, this wasn’t a mass shooting and we were not shot at directly. We were about 25-feet from the second shooting. We heard the gun shot. We heard screams. We saw panic. We saw fear. We experienced panic and fear. We also experienced a real life lock-down, as stores locked customers inside to protect them.

At one point in this situation, we were separated. My youngest daughter and her best friend were in a store on a different level of the mall. I was in a store with my wife and our other daughter. And as you might expect, we didn’t have cell service. We couldn’t communicate with my daughter and her friend.

It’s impossible to describe how you feel. You’re helpless from protecting your loved ones. You’re helpless from protecting anyone. You’re not sure what’s really going on. You just know something bad is happening, and all you can do is hope things turn out okay.

When I was a boy, I had heard of cancer but it hadn’t impacted my life. I didn’t know anyone who had cancer. I hadn’t lost anyone to cancer. Things are obviously different today. We’re all touched by cancer. We all know someone with cancer. We all know someone who has died from cancer. Cancer spreads slowly, but it continues forward.

I’m starting to think shootings may follow a similar path where, at some point, we will all have a shooting impact our lives.

Just like with cancer, there is far too much money involved.

Cancer is very profitable, and will never be cured by the pharmaceutical companies. Why would a business knowingly end it’s most attractive income stream? Why would the businesses who profit from gun sales knowingly end their gravy train? They won’t, and that’s why shootings will ultimately follow cancers destructive path.

We live in one of the best countries in the world, but we’ve got to stop putting money first. We’ve got to start putting people first.

The day after this incident, I ended up reading about the Natural Living Quiz. I believe it’s from the book Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior.  I’ve included a few questions from the quiz below. Ask yourself how many times you’ve had the listed experience in the past month:

  • Rocked a newborn baby to sleep
  • Made up a story and told it to a child
  • Felt the sunrise warm your face
  • Shown courage in protecting a child from danger
  • Shown leadership and resourcefulness in an emergency
  • Shared a meal with parents, siblings, or other close relatives
  • Made a new friend
  • Made something beautiful and gave it to someone
  • Repaired something that was broken
  • Improved a skill through diligent practice
  • Followed good advice from someone older
  • Taught a useful skill, charming art, or interesting fact to someone younger
  • Petted a dog or cat
  • Worked with earth, clay, stone, wood, or fiber
  • Comforted someone dying
  • Walked over a hill and across a stream
  • Identified a bird by its song
  • Played a role in a local ritual, festival, drama, or party
  • Played a team sport
  • Sustained silent eye contact with someone to show affection
  • Made a physical effort to achieve a collective goal with others
  • Sang, danced, or played instruments with a group of friends
  • Shamed someone who was behaving badly, for the greater good
  • Made friends laugh out loud
  • Experienced sublime beauty that made your hair stand on end
  • Applied the Golden Rule by helping someone in need
  • Warmed yourself by an open fire under the stars

Several of these experiences relate to leadership and courage with regards to children. I can’t honestly say that I acted with courage during the shooting scene. I simply reacted without much thought. We ran away from the gunfire just like everyone else. There was no leading.

I also realized that I haven’t had many of these experiences in the last 30 days. Out of all the experiences listed, I’ve only had six of them. This is a sign that I’m not truly experiencing the best experiences in life.

This is going to change.

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