Monday, January 11, 2010

The Pillow's Other Side

Irony takes many shapes and forms. Last night at about 8:00 p.m. or so it took the form of a quick end to sudden-death overtime period in the NFL playoff game between the Cardinals and the Packers. After sixty minutes in which the two teams' defenses combined to give up a cool 90 points and slightly less than 1.5 million yards, the game ended on a defensive touchdown. Go figure. What were the odds? Probably about the same as the Cardinals defensive back #27 (I think his last name is Adams), who spent most of the game staring at the back of the helmets of Packers receivers as they blew past him, being the one who forced the decisive fumble in OT.

There is no accounting for how things are going to turn out I suppose. A lesson I was reminded of again last evening watching Capt. Chesley Sullenberger on television. In the event that you have been in a coma since last January, "Sully" is the U.S. Airways pilot who incredibly landed his engine less jumbo jet on (and then in) the Hudson River in the aftermath of a sneak attack by those winged devils; Canadian geese. TLC had a documentary on last night called "Brace for Impact", during which Captain Sullenberger took us through what he had done in the cockpit of Flight 1549 from take-off through geese strike through touchdown in an unusually water-filled environment. Even though this is a story in which the ending - incredibly and unbelievably happy for one and all - is known to the viewer from the moment we turn the set on to watch it, it was nevertheless riveting. Any flight that takes the path that Flight 1549 did and nevertheless ends up a crash from which all aboard were able to walk away - to live to tell the tale - is nothing short of extraordinary.

I came away from watching the show last night thinking that sometimes things work the way they are supposed to work. And the person we need to be in a particular place at a particular time so that he is in position to save us all is indeed where that person is supposed to be. And he is there not because Commissioner Gordon cranked up the Bat Signal and asked him to get there but, rather, because being there is his job and there is no place else he would otherwise be.

If you can come away from watching and listening to Captain Sullenberger describe what he and his First Officer did in the cockpit of the jet and from listening to the conversations that he had with air traffic control, including when he tells the controller who he was working with directly that he has no other options and is going to land the plane in the Hudson River without being equal parts amazed and impressed at his coolness under stress, then you are either not human or you are a liar.

Ambrose Redmoon wrote, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." In the three minutes or so last January during which a routine flight from La Guardia to Charlotte North Carolina turned into anything but, Chesley Sullenburger III never doubted that there was something significantly more important than fear. And that recognition saved not only his own life but the lives of every individual who was on board Flight 1549.

I am not in the TV review business. And I am reticent to ever recommend a particular program to anyone. That being said, I am fairly certain that if you invest the hour needed to watch this particular show on TLC, when it is over you will not be looking for someone to sue in order to get that sixty minutes of your life back.

And if you disagree with me and you need legal representation, then call me. We can work something out.


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