Thursday, May 12, 2011

" Everything changes in an instant.." - A perspective worth reading

For a few minutes, read the story below and put yourself in Ric's shoes. He was on the plane that crashed into the Hudson River and he thought he was going to die. Really.

As one who has had one too many close calls/near death experiences (Iraq/Afghanistan/Major Car Wreck in 2000), I can understand his perspective perfectly.

Your life, your world, everything can be taken away in a matter of seconds.....what would be the outcome ?? How would you see it (as it ended without warning?) How would those you love & care about see it?

When this happens, " everything changes in an instant". It truly does. I know. I have felt this exact same feeling. Each day since then has been a gift to me.

Does that make me better than anyone else ??? Nope. I am a flawed and imperfect person who is still trying to learn from the experiences.....I try to apply the lessons but still make mistakes.

Stop. Think for a minute and reflect on Ric's words. You never know if you will get another chance.....really.

All here in Afghanistan is calm for the moment.....As we say over here, " A boring tour is a good tour" far, it has been kinda boring. Here's hoping it stays that way....R&R in September.....

What I thought when my plane crashed
May 08, 2011By Ric Elias, Special to CNN

When you start your own company and become your own boss, you think, "Life is good." When you actually start making money and growing your business, you think, "Life is great." But when you're sitting in seat 1D of an airborne plane that's completely silent because the engines have been shut down, and you hear the pilot say, "Brace for impact," none of it really matters.

As I sat in the first row of Flight 1549, just moments before it crashed in the Hudson River that day in January 2009, the things that had once seemed so important no longer mattered. I didn't have to talk to the flight attendant anymore. I could see a very distinct look in her eyes. It was the look of terror. And I was going to die.

It was a true miracle that I didn't die that day. It was also an experience that changed me forever. It gave me a tremendous appreciation for life and an immense amount of gratitude for the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, and the people who were sitting next to me. I took many lessons from that flight, three in particular that will shape the rest of my life.

I learned that everything changes in an instant. We all have this bucket list of the things we want to do in life. And I sat there thinking 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 and never did. So I came up with a new saying for myself: 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 changed me -- as a husband, as a father, and as a business owner.

The second thing I learned that day -- and this was as we cleared the George Washington Bridge, which was by not a lot: I thought, "Wow, I really feel one real regret." I've lived a good life. I've learned from my mistakes and I've tried to get better at everything I do. But in my humanity, I've also allowed my ego to get in. And I regretted the time I wasted on things that didn't matter.
I thought about my relationship with my wife, with my friends, with people. And as I reflected on that, I decided to eliminate negative energy from my life. Things aren't perfect, but they're a lot better. I haven't had a fight with my wife in two years. It feels great. I no longer try to be right -- I choose to be happy.

The third thing came to me as my mental clock started counting down, "15, 14, 13." I could see the water coming and started hoping, "Please blow up. Please blow up. I don't want this thing to break in 20 pieces like you seen in those documentaries."

And as we were coming down, 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 love my life. And that sadness really came together in one thought, which was, I only wish for one thing. I only wish I could see my kids grow up.

About a month later, I was at a performance for my 7-year-old daughter. And I started bawling. I was crying, like a little kid. And it made all the sense in the world to me. I realized at that point, by connecting those two dots, that the only thing that matters in my life is being a great dad. Above all, above everything else, the only goal I have in life is to be a good dad.

I was given the gift of a miracle, of not dying that day. I was also given another gift, which was to be able to see into the future and come back and live differently. It was the perfect near-death experience. I challenge you to imagine your life if the same thing happened on your next flight. How would you change? What would you get done that you're waiting to get done because you think you'll be here forever? How would you change your relationships and the negative energy in them? And more than anything, are you being the absolute best parent you can be?

The TED conference was the first time I've ever shared my story publicly. I felt compelled to share it with the tech community as a way to say thanks. I never expected it to resonate with so many people. I've received hundreds of e-mails from people across the globe, letting me know this story has made an impact on their lives. It has allowed me to connect with old friends. In many ways, this story has given me more gifts than I ever thought possible.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ric Elias.

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