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What If YOUR Plane’s Engine Was on Fire?

Yesterday one of the two engines o
n a Jet Blue plane leaving Long Beach, California, caught fire and the cabin immediately filled with smoke.

Oxygen masks did not drop down so passengers gasped for breath until flight attendants released the masks manually. Babies cried and adults wondered if these were their last moments alive. Some people made phone calls to say their Goodbyes.

"I thought This is it, I'm going to die," one man later stated, speaking for many people on the plane, I'm sure.

The plane turned around and "was jarring all over the place" as it returned to the airport. Throughout the approach to the runway, flight attendants shouted at the tops of their lungs, "Brace, brace, brace...."

As soon as the plane landed, applause burst out in the cabin and then there was a mass dash to the exit slides.

Dramatic? Oh yeah.

News teams rushed to the scene and interviewed passengers.

What touched me the most was what one man said to the camera shortly after the landing.

“I’m just happy to be alive. I don’t think I’ll be mean to anybody ever again.”

I’m just happy to be alive. I don’t think I’ll be mean to anybody ever again. Wow. Simple words that say so much.

In-your-face mortality has a way of getting us very clear very fast. In that clarity, the man blurted out his secret formula for life.

We all have one. A secret formula for life, I mean.

It’s a secret only because we usually don’t know what it is until something critical happens. Like engine failure. And then all of a sudden we know.

Without such a catalyst, we usually think things like “I’ll be happy when x,y or z happens.” When I…discover my purpose…get a job I love…have enough money…get healthy...lose the weight…find the right relationship…know that my kids turned out okay. And other things. You know what they are.

But this man, so fresh in his truth, didn’t put any  qualifiers on his happiness. None. Just happy to be alive.

And he knew how he wanted to live: I don’t think I’ll be mean to anybody ever again.

That’s big. Simple and big.

Does this mean that he will never again feel angry, frustrated, impatient, hurt or afraid?

Of course not.

He was talking about a greater truth, a greater unconditional happiness and appreciation for his life that I imagine might cradle those distressing feelings. Be the bigger container for them. Remind him to savor his life and be kind to people alongside those feelings.

That’s a pretty good formula for life!

For him.

A formula for life only works for the person it’s true for. As much as we like his formula, it might not be yours or mine.

So what about you?

If you had emerged from that smoky plane to fresh air and a safe landing at the bottom of the inflated slide, what would you tell the reporter was now clear for you?

What would YOUR secret formula for life be?

Believing in you,


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