For anyone who believes that life is a random process, that accidents and coincidences are just descriptive words with very little gravity to their definitions, I would suggest that this one moment in time disproves that "coincidences" are just a little quirk in the fabric of our existence. This one hour show on television last night highlighted so many details that, had even one of them not occurred, we would have a very different, perhaps tragic story to remember about Flight 1549.
Captain Sullenberger was a decorated Air Force fighter pilot who went on to log 29 years (and counting - he went back to work and is piloting planes again) as an airline pilot. The most captivating detail is this: Sullenberger is also a licensed glider pilot. The years he spent logging hours and experience as a glider pilot became instrumental in controlling the forced ditched landing in the Hudson River of Flight 1549 when all power to the engines was lost. (USAToday.com Pilot Profile) In addition, Sullenberger is one of an elite few pilots who helped develop the training program "Crew Resource Management" (CRM), which is a mandatory program for commercial airline pilots to take, and teaches vital flight safety methods.
Had even one of these details been different, if perhaps another pilot were at the controls that day, we don't know what the outcome might have been. The happy fact is that all the planets lined up in ideal order for all those Souls on board Flight 1549 that day. Would most people call this pure dumb luck? A complete accident or coincidence? I prefer to believe that there was a strong thread of Destiny woven into the life stories of all the people on that plane that day. The result was, indeed, miraculous and it gave us an occurrence to marvel at, to be thankful for and, I believe, to restore faith in the hearts of many that yes, miracles do happen. Happy Endings are possible, and all of 2009 wasn't a complete disaster to write off in our memories.
Captain Chesley Sullenberger, for better or worse, became the focus of the world as a result of how he handled himself and that plane that day in January 2009. He was thrust into a global spotlight that I daresay was an unexpected burden for a man who was just doing his job. I heard him say in a television interview that after much introspection, he was finally able to recognize and come to peace with the fact that people had a need to identify with heroes and to apply that label to a tangible source. His humility is rather stunning, and just deepens that Hero persona for many. It is also appropriate to note that the whole crew of Flight 1549, along with all the First Responders who rushed to rescue on the Hudson River that day - they are all true Heroes. Many of the passengers on Flight 1549 also performed feats of heroism.
I've spoken of my own path during 2009 in various blog posts, and feel that despite the difficult challenges of that year, much of it was necessary to prepare me for things to come in my near future. I can now look back on 2009 and mentally mark the special moments that glowed brightly. The television show last night about The Miracle on the Hudson nudged me and reminded me that yes, amongst the roadblocks, challenges and disappointments, there were moments of breathtaking beauty. I am certain that those of you reading this post can do the same. Look back on 2009, push past the difficult times and focus - you'll find equally beautiful moments if you try. In fact, they may jump out at you!
I went back through my Facebook posts that I wrote on New Year's Eve 2009, and on New Year's Day 2010 and felt they combined to produce a fitting close to this post.
"Here's wishing you and those you love blessings, good health, prosperity and a clear eye to recognize and appreciate all of the above as they shower down upon you!" New Year's Eve 2009
"In the quiet space of morning today, I reflected on all the people who touched my life in 2009. I've been blessed with old friendships renewed, new friendships flourishing, wonderful family and so many unexpected happy moments. Love given is love returned, tenfold." New Year's Day 2010
For me, this is the unexpected beauty that I have found, in retrospect, of the year of 2009. In the midst of adversity, I had my own miracles. You did as well, and had anything changed slightly in how we lived that year, the outcome would also have changed. I think we're all doing pretty well, and I'm glad I watched that program on TLC to remind me of the beauty of 2009.