Friday, January 16, 2009

The miraculous Hudson River plane crash

So, I'm as transfixed as everyone by the amazing survival of 155 passengers and crew from US Air flight 1549. Other than "wow" a couple of thoughts occur to me.

More... First of all, it's local news. And I guess everyone, once or twice, has had that experience of hearing a local story on the local news and then hearing it again on the national news. I wasn't surprised to see the story on CNN, because you'll see the most picayune nonsense on CNN; truly, if a truck crashes in Atlanta, you'll see it on CNN. Why? Because they like crashes, and they have to fill 24 hours of news reporting somehow. But I was stunned to realize that it was the lead story on BBC World Service this morning. It made me stop, metaphorically, in my tracks (literally, I kept driving, because literally stopping would have been bad at that moment). Like, Wow, everyone's talking about this. This isn't just something that happened in New York. It happened everywhere.

I don't want to compare it to 9/11, but as I type those sentences, that comparison arises in my mind. It has nothing to do with New York and everything to do with shared experience. Seven years ago, shared tragedy and rage. This week, shared hope and delight.

Because that's the second thing that came up for me. I work in a fairly spacious cube farm; the cubes are roomy and we're not in each other's laps. Nonetheless, I can hear a lot of what is said in the cube I'm back-to-back with. When my back-to-back co-worker heard about the crash, on the phone, around 4 o'clock, I heard, and first I heard plane crash and then I heard everyone survived. And I noticed that in my mind, in my shoulders, I was ready. It was what? A millisecond? But I was ready for death and tragedy. I was ready to be numbed to it. How else was I going to feel? Heartbroken? No, there is too much, and more every day, and I was ready to be numb.

And then I wasn't. Then it was a story of survival, of a miracle, of something to remember forever and tell your grandchildren: I survived a plane crash! A plane crash! Life vests and the evening news and yes I prayed and yes I thought I was dead and I thought of my family and imagined them going on without me and THEN IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Yes.

And in feeling the joy of it, and watching the evening news and feeling it again, and looking at those faces and saying to myself, That is the face of someone who lived, I suddenly woke up to how full of tragedy we all are, how we are choking on it, and how different it feels to have a miracle.

(Cross-post gliding into the river)