“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
Life and death don’t ask what time it is.
It was May 1st, 2011.
I thought losing my luggage from West Palm Beach to Memphis marked the low point of my business trip.
Then, a shift. Clarity, gratitude, and life confronted me. Losing my luggage became a joyous moment.
Great weekend in Memphis. We sold properties, made money, ate barbeque, and laughed with friends.
I am now on my flight back Sunday from Memphis flying to West Palm Beach. I’m watching a baseball game, in an unconscious daze, half asleep.
We are 30,000 ft up, cruising altitude. I am sitting in the last row in the middle seat. I am with two very close friends, and their child. They are sitting further up, separated by several rows.
Light fog in the cabin. Something smells. Then smoke. I wake up. I am no longer unconscious. I am fully aware. I had trouble breathing. I covered my face with my t-shirt.
Yes, a fire on the 757 jet. Detour. Emergency landing to Tampa Airport. No control. Just fear – bone chilling fear – and no control over it. Whoever said there is a sense of “calm” before the “end,” lied. I did not want to die.
The flight attendants were trembling.
Smiling white teeth, and directions to the exit doors with graceful precision from attendants we see regularly before flights – well, that didn’t happen either. My friend, Kent, on this flight can depict this perfectly, and you’ll be sure to get a howl of intense laughter.
The Captain: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we do understand there is a fire in the plane. We are making an emergency landing in Tampa. We should get there in approximately 20 minutes. We are starting our descend now.”
It was a slight moment of comfort…
2nd Announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands on the seat in front of you. Put your legs together. And put your head down.”
Then the 3 words you never want to hear on a plane:
“Brace. For. Impact.”
It’s on now.
We descended from 30,000 feet in the air to 10,000 in about 3 minutes. A duck dive with some turbulence. Not heavy turbulence, but assure you turbulence is much different when there is a fire on your plane.
My heart raced in my chest like a jackhammer against pavement.
What did I do?
Instinct. What are my surroundings? How can I protect my self from impact? Where are the exits? Are we landing on land or in water? Like a special ops soldier behind enemy lines aware of the danger.
After instinct, all I can do was wait, and think. The most intense 20 minutes of my life.
I thought about my family. The people I care about. The people I love. I thought about my Mother, my Sister, my Grandparents, my late Father. My friends. What would they feel if I went down? How would they be affected? I felt a deep, burning pain. The pain was the thought of their hardship. I did not want them to live that hardship.
I prayed. I hoped. I begged. I asked the universe to help me. I asked life to help me. I asked God to help me. I asked Karma for another chance. I thought positive. I thought negative. I tried to accept what is. I tried to be completely present. I tried to remove myself. I tried to visualize I was somewhere else.
It was a moment in real life.
EVERY moment we have on Planet Earth is real life. And it is happening RIGHT NOW.
Paulo Coelho, the famous author who wrote The Alchemist, put it simply and perfectly:
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”
This quote, my flying experience, and a wristband I’ve been wearing which states, “The Time Is Now,” is the inspiration which lead me to write this blog – TheTimeisNowBlog.com
One day, real life will end for all of us. It may be frightening. It may be sad. But it is true.
We don’t have control of when that day will come. But we do have control of every day, every MOMENT given to us right NOW.
My message is simple.
After every one of these phrases add the word NOW to the particular word that relates to your life:
Do it, play it, run it, jump it, sweat it, swim it, sculpt it, paint it, act it, dance it, sing it, sell it, buy it, write it, read it, travel to it, love it, love her, love him, help it, design it, apply it, build it, create it, compose it, engage it, embrace it, earn it, try it, win it, lose it, succeed at it, fail at it, try it again, own it, ask for it, get it, learn it, speak it, plan it, present it, propose it, strategize it, implement it, invest it, market it, make it, difference make it, start it, quit it, fix it, improve it, inspire it, send it, receive it, bike it, hike it, fly it, get purpose for it, mix purpose with motion, communicate it, cultivate it, shock it, invoke it, provoke it, command it, demand it, deliver it, define it, decide it, give it, and live it – NOW.
The Time is Now. The time is not the past. The time is not the future. The time is now. You will never know when you’re “now” is finished.
My “now” was almost finished when I was 26 years old.
It was celebration on that plane. Cheers, tears, hugs, smiles, and high fives were shared with passion.
It was a moment in real life.
I am alive right now.
I now have more clarity. It took me 15 months from when the incident took place. I’m not sure why. But it doesn’t matter because the light shines brighter right now.
I live my life now, and I am grateful for each moment.
I’m not sure who said this quote but I love it:
“Every day is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”
The Time is Now.