Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The gift of the unexpected

A couple of cool articles to share. About the aftermath when something unexpected happens. The process of reinventing a life.
  • Two friends cycling across the US stopped in Aurora, Colorado. Where they went to a movie, a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. The bike tour and their lives were interrupted. Last Friday in San Francisco they dipped wheels into the Pacific Ocean. 
  • After 20 years at the NIMH a psychiatrist is forced out of his position. He still has plenty to contribute but outside the context of his job, colleagues, workplace, how can that happen? He writes a book on how to make the most of adversity, how to adapt and learn from it. 
It sounds odd but life is so much richer since the accident. I'm NOT volunteering to go through this process again, mind you. Fighting is exhausting. Body, mind, spirit - depleted right now. Just saying there are benefits. They keep coming...

Right after takeoff from Copenhagen our plane had a mechanical issue. The flaps on the wing would not retract. We had to turn around. The pilot came on and said it would be a normal landing, but faster and heavier than usual. Because our brakes would heat up he had ordered the fire brigade at the airport, as a precaution.

We had 20 minutes to process what that might mean. Would the plane be intact after landing? Would everyone on board be intact? My seat was on top of the wing. They lowered the landing gear early to slow us down, and it made a horrible noise. The soundtrack of death. If the brakes caught fire, flames would spread toward the back of the plane. I would head in the other direction.

Everything went well. But judging from the applause on landing, I wasn't the only one having these thoughts.

Looking back on the experience here's a few more:
  1. There's no script - we can't know what comes next. Slow down and use all your senses. Take in what they're telling you. Savor each moment.
  2. My goodbye note was pretty ordinary. Not much original content. Note to self: dig a little deeper. Find something to say.
  3. Work used to consume my life. And I had trouble letting go of it. When the unexpected happens, you won't be firing yourself, you'll be picking up the pieces. Spend your energy on people who will help with that.
  4. Honestly there's no good reason to have an espresso before getting on an airplane!

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