The effort to make a better life
is worth the struggle because the outcome
is a life that serves you
Seat belted in Continental Flight 603, and speeding down the runway at 167 miles per hour I felt three massive explosions. Plunged into paralyzing terror as the unthinkable happened, I experienced a jolt so powerful that I felt severed at the waist as my body slammed against the seat belt. Bounced and rocked, surrounded by screeching crashing sounds, an ear-splitting crack met my ear as one wing clipped the tarmac and shattered. The lumbering DC-10 aircraft, heavily laden with fuel, jerked violently. My breath jammed in my throat and the bitter taste of horror invaded my mouth. I was going to die. Pandemonium was everywhere, brittle sounds of the cabin breaking apart, panels popping from the ceiling at crazy angles. I cringed at the sight of loose luggage flying through the air and bouncing off panicked passengers. A darkened movie screen shattered in a heap.
A flight attendant screamed, “Tighten your seat belts! Tighten your seat belts!” Then another attendant yelled, “Head between your knees…grab your ankles! Head between your knees…grab your ankles!”
Before I ducked my head, I glanced fearfully out the window. We were racing down the runway toward the rental car lot which was crammed with cars. My heart pounded in my chest. An eerie silence blanketed the cabin, as I witnessed the fear of death frozen on the faces around me. I dropped my head, gripped my ankles, and immersed myself in a strange union of dread and anticipation.
I had heard that your life replays in your mind when you are at death’s door. My life was such a mess; I really didn’t want to see it again. Visions of a childhood afflicted by family alcoholism and violence flashed before me. I’d been hospitalized at six years old for malnutrition. My dream of becoming an Olympic skier was scrapped when I needed a heart catheterization at 16. My ongoing battle with my weight entailed abusing my body with diet pills and bulimia; repeatedly vomiting, and binging and fasting. I had no real career as an actress; only a series of rejections and bills to pay. Men’s faces passed before me, I had loved them, and they spurned me. Unworthy, and on the brink of suicide, now, my wish would come true. In a matter of seconds I would die.
The plane was hurtling off the end of the runway with a load of passengers and a belly filled with explosive fuel. Then the unimaginable happened, and an all-encompassing calm descended upon me. Overcome by a rush of warmth and euphoria, I succumbed to a sensation of profound tranquility. The serene calm blanketed me with a feeling of protection. At no time in my life had I felt such love. I wondered, is this what it was like to die? Was this the mysterious culminating grace, or a normal reaction before death streamed down darkness? Did my fellow passengers feel insulated from their fate by this sense of peace and unconditional love? Did they also hear what I perceived to be an inner voice speaking to me?
You were given this life!
What have you done with it?
You can choose to die or
you can make a difference!
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