Brace for Impact
“Brace for impact!” These were the alarming words spoken by the pilot of flight 1549 on January 15, 2009, as the jet taking off from New York City suddenly plummeted into the Hudson River. Miraculously, everyone survived! In their thought provoking book, Brace for Impact, Kevin Quirk and Dorothy Firman interviewed passengers and found out that after this terrifying experience they definitely shifted their priorities in life. These passengers realized that relationships were so much more important than careers, sports, addictions and all of the other things that keep us from being in our hearts and loving the people closest to us.
What would your thoughts, feelings, desires, regrets, and heartfelt prayers be if you, like these passengers, knew you perhaps only had two more minutes to live? And then if, by a miracle, you did survive the crash, how would you change your life? Are we honoring our relationships and loving enough, or are we distracting ourselves with things that really don’t matter? There is perhaps not one person who, upon their death bed, regrets they didn’t spend more time in the office, or more time watching sports, drinking, using drugs, watching hours of TV and of course the list goes on. Instead, they want to know that they loved and cared for others. This is what brings peace to a dying soul.
“Brace for impact!” Upon hearing such words perhaps your first thought would be to pray in some form. If you had spent time in your life developing your relationship with God (Higher Spirit, Divine Presence, etc.) this would come easily to you and would be a source of tremendous comfort. Our spiritual relationship is our most important relationship and one that needs to be honored and cultivated each and every day of our lives. From this relationship flows connection into all other relationships.
“Brace for impact!” Perhaps your thoughts would center on your children. Have you loved them enough? Do you give them enough of your time? When I first became a mother, I was visiting my parent’s home with our baby. My cousin, who is much older than I am, came to see our baby daughter. I asked him for his best advice on parenting. He said, “Really be there for your children and give them your love and your time. I deeply regret the years that I let my career be more important than my children and wife. And I celebrate the years that I knew they were the most important. The mistake of not being there for a certain phase in their growth can never be undone. You can never recapture that period.”
My cousin’s advice stayed with me and became a foundation for my life as a parent. Barry and I set a goal to make our relationship and our three children the priority over our work. We probably could have made more money, written more books, traveled to distant places and given more speeches. After the publication of our first book, The Shared Heart, when our first two children were small we were getting 2-3 exciting invitations each week, major speaking tours, cruise ships, world tours and conferences. All of these invitations would have taken us away from our daughters. We only accepted those invitations in which we could either take them along, or be gone a maximum of two days.
And now our children are grown and leading active lives. Do they remember that we were there for every school play, concert, almost every volleyball game, and when they were sick? They may or may not, that is not so important. But we remember. The memories of seeing John-Nuri singing solos in the school play, or Mira singing “Deep and Wide” in the elementary concert, or reading stories and being there to hear Rami’s prayers each night are a permanent part of our hearts and memories. There is such a peace inside that we were really there and took place in each phase of their growing years.
“Brace for impact!” What about your partner, wife or husband? Have you really told them how you feel? My parents both had heart disease. They were aware that they could die at any time, so they developed a very special ritual. Before they went to sleep each night they thanked each other for the gift of sharing their lives together. They appreciated each other and shared their love. Then in the morning when they woke up together, they said a prayer of gratitude that they had another day together. They never lost sight of the fact that this could be their last day. When my father did die suddenly at the age of 89, my mother was prepared and peaceful for she and my father had said their good-bys for nine years and had welcomed each new day as a celebration to be together.
“Brace for impact.” What about all of your other relationships: siblings, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and relatives? Have you expressed your love and caring? In one of our workshops a woman was complaining about her mother with whom she had not talked for over a year. They had a “falling out” and the daughter refused to return any of the mother’s calls or letters. By going deeper into her feelings, the daughter realized that she also needed to apologize to her mother. We urged her to call her mother that very night. The next day she returned to the workshop with a glow of happiness around her and told us that she had the most wonderful call with her mother. She apologized first and then her mother apologized and then they cried together and shared an hour of love and fond memories. We heard from this same woman four days later. Her mother had been in a car accident and died instantly. She was so grateful for the healing loving words that she and her mother had spoken.
“Brace for impact!” What if that had been you in that fateful plane? Have you really spoken all the words of love that you need to? Now is the time. Fortunately for the passengers of flight 1549, they all survived the crash into the Hudson River. And for all the loving words that were not spoken before, they were spoken as quickly as possible. Does it take a near plane crash to wake us up to the fact that this life is precious and our time here is numbered? Today is the day to appreciate and show our love.
Let “brace for impact” take on a different meaning. Let it instead encourage you to prepare for a loving “impact,” a connection between two hearts that may forever “impact” your life.