Another winter storm was on the way and the airline notified me that I could change my flight from Monday to Tuesday. I thought about it, since it would give me more time in the city with my friends. However, the snow did not come so I decided to leave as planned. Plus my intuition was not saying yes or no to either day and when it comes to changing flights around, I prefer to stick with the original plan.
I boarded the plane, sat down, started to read, thought about exchanges I had with someone throughout the weekend. I was annoyed, had opinions, and was certain he needed to know exactly how I felt. The fiery side of me came out and I was intrigued to go back and forth with him via text messages. Damn right. Deep down, I knew it would have been better to take the high road, but the drama of the exchanges kept me engaged. I do try to end interactions with others on a positive note, since you never know what can happen. I did not do it this time.
The plane took off and I could see my favorite city and a snow-covered Central Park. Then the first ‘boom’ came. I said to the guy next to me, “What the hell was that?” He did not know. People started to take their faces out of books and newspapers and looked around. The plane continued to climb and when the pilot accelerated again, a second and even louder explosion happened.
I thought to myself that I really don’t want to die today. This airplane better not crash, since I have things to do in this world. Then I thought about my parents and turned on my cell phone to text them if the plane suddenly fell out of the sky. I thought about my life and if I had any regrets. I thought about if there were words that I still needed to say to someone. Then I saw there was a People magazine in the seat pocket. Great. I can just read People magazine and see the latest on the Oscar dresses. This lasted about ten seconds and fear came over me again. I sat in this fear and remained present and somewhat calm.
The pilot came on and informed us, “The left engine failed, the airplane was coasting, and we have to go back to LaGuardia.” In a calm voice he added, “It is OK to fly with one engine and there would be emergency vehicles on the runway, but we should not worry.” What? Not worry. I felt the plane hanging in the air using its wings to glide. I prefer engines instead of just the plane’s wings. No one said anything. I wonder what others thought about.
Soon after the announcement we circled Manhattan, flew the path that took the plane down the Hudson River and up the East River. I told the guy next to me, “Look at this great view.” White-faced, he agreed and tried to look out my window. I took a snapshot of lower Manhattan and used my ‘tools’ to think positive. To be honest, my list of regrets was not too long and if anything did happen, I can say that my life up to this point was pretty much how I wanted to live it.
We landed safely. We were ecstatic. Jokes started. I stood up, grabbed my bags and was thankful for this experience to see my life in a different way. Now more than ever, I know what it means to live each day as if it is your last. The captain thought they might service the plane, but there was no way I was getting back on it. Now I am sitting and happily waiting ten hours for the next flight while planning regret #1- a trip to Mt Everest. In case you are wondering, I did take the high road and reached out to him.
Have you ever thought about what you would do differently if tomorrow were your last day?
Are there things in life waiting for you that you always wanted to do?
Don’t wait for a terrifying plane experience to take action to do the things you want to do or to say I love you or I am sorry to someone.
LIVE YOUR LIFE NOW. This is all we have.