January 25, 2009

Being Alive

After the amazing landing of the airplane in the Hudson River, reporters were rushing to interview the passengers. One man talked about the experience right after he and the others had been plucked from the plane. His voice was shaking with emotion. He paused and apologized to the reporter for that, saying "I'm just excited to be alive."

I've recalled this man's words over and over. I wonder why it takes something like surviving a plane crash or cancer to show us how sweet life is. A few days after I heard the interview, I had a too-busy, stressful day. I was walking from one meeting to another, and the day was crisp and cold. The sky was blue above and people were bundled up, going here and there. And the man's words came to me like a kind of commandment, instructing me to be excited about being alive. In the middle of busyness, stress, worries, difficulties, and duties: Be excited to be alive. And in that moment, my mood shifted and I saw how beautiful everything was, around me and even within -- my own life.

To the man from the plane, I offer my thanks. And a prayer that his revelation of the amazing experience of being alive will continue to shape him and those of us who heard that interview for a very long time.