I love reading this incredible story! Ric Elias had a front row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York – January 2009.
If we could take ANY wisdom that Ric gained from his life changing experience, it would be a small miracle in itself. This is how Ric described the three things he learned during the tragic flight:
“Imagine a big explosion as you climb through 3000 feet.
Imagine a plane full of smoke.
Imagine an engine making an awful clanging noise.
It was scary.
Well I had a unique seat that day, I was sitting in 1d. I was the only one who could talk to the flight attendants. I looked at them right away and they reassured me there was no problem – we have probably hit some birds. Also, the plane was already turning around and it wasn’t far, we could still see Manhattan.
Two minutes later, 3 things happened at exactly the same time. The pilot aligned the plane with the Hudson River – that’s not the usual route! He turns off the engines – imagine being on a plane with no sound. Then he says 3 words – the most unemotional words ive ever heard, he says ‘brace for impact’
I didn’t need to talk to the flight attendant anymore! I could see in her eyes it was terror – life was over. Now I want to share three things I learnt about myself that day…
I learned that it all changes in an instant
We have this bucket list, lots of things we want to do in life. I thought about all the people I wanted to reach out to that I didn’t all the fences I wanted to mend, all the experiences I wanted to have, but never did.
As I thought about that, later on I came up with a saying which is: ‘I collect bad wines’… because if the wine is ready, and the person is there, I’m opening it. I no longer want to postpone anything in life. And that urgency, that purpose, has really changed my life.
The second thing I learned that day, and this was as we cleared the George Washington bridge – only just. I realised I only have one real regret. I’ve lived a good life and tried to improve at everything I do… but through my own humanity, I’ve allowed my ego to get in. I’ve regretted the time I’ve wasted in things that did not matter, with people that mattered. I thought about my relationship with my wife, with friends and other people, and after I reflected on that, I decided to eliminate negative energy from my life.
Its still not perfect, but much better now. I’ve not had a fight with my wife in 2 years which feels great. I no longer try to be right, I choose to be HAPPY.
The 3rd thing I learned, and this is while your mental clock starts counting.. ‘15,14,13…’ you can see the water coming, your going down and I had a sense of, wow, dying is not scary. It’s almost like we’ve been preparing for it our whole lives, but it was very sad. I didn’t want to go, I loved life.
And that sadness framed itself in one thought, which was, I only want for one thing… I only wish I could see my kids grow up. About a month later I was at a performance by my daughter, a first grader, not much artistic talent – yet! I’m crying like a little kid, and it made all the sense in the world to me. I realised at that point, by connecting those 2 dots that the only thing that matters in this life, is being a great dad. Because, above all, the only goal I have in life is to be a good dad.
I was given the gift of a miracle, by not dying that day. I was given another gift, which was to be able to see into the future and come back and live differently.
Imagine the same thing happening to you on a flight – although I hope it doesn’t! But imagine it did, and how would you change? What would you get done, that your waiting to get done because you think your going to be here for ever? How would you change your relationships and the negative energy in them? And more than anything, are you being the best parent you can?”