Monday, November 18, 2013

Everything is a Close Call

I tell this tired joke on occasion: "Just this morning as I was driving a car barreled by at 120 km/hour right over where I had been only a second earlier! I could have been killed!" Ha ha.

Though I laugh, there is a hidden truth to this joke. Real danger passes by us more often than we realize. We rely on the fallible reflexes, good intentions, and social contract obligations of tired and distracted strangers, or on being one of the faceless individuals in a teeming herd who happen to not be picked out by someone with evil intent on that day. We live in denial about this, because we have no choice.

Yesterday, I was tracking my girlfriend's El Al flight from Hong Kong back to Israel on a tracking website and it showed the plane passing over Iran (see above). I was expecting either of two things as I watched the plane crawl over Iran: a) news reports of a plane crash in Iran, or b) the display to update eventually with the correct route, since El Al planes certainly don't fly over Iran.

Sure enough, a little while later the map was redrawn with the plane 1,200 km further north, somewhere over Kazakhstan near the Caspian Sea. Well, at least I don't have to worry about a plane crash, I thought. A few minutes later there was a news report of a plane crash: in Kazan, Russia, about 1,900 km north of her flight.

Ok, the plane that crashed was a Boeing 737, the model with the most number of crashes (because it has flown the most number of flights, although earlier versions had a notorious rudder problem), while the El Al flight was a 777, a model with an excellent safety record. The Tatarstan Airlines plane was previously known to have problems and Russian airplanes are notoriously unsafe. Still, I was happy to hear when the El Al flight touched down safely in Tel Aviv.

I suppose my point is this: live every day as if it was your first. The world is full of wonder: trees, sky, joy, books, friends, working limbs. You were given the capacity to feel joy; use it whenever you can. And ... oh yeah: look both ways before you cross the street.

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