I just watched this short, powerful testimony given by one of the survivors of that famous Hudson River crash-landing. He talks about the lessons he learned during and after that near-death experience.
On the one hand, the lessons are fairly obvious:
- Enjoy lfe's moments - don't put off happiness
- Don't waste time on things that aren't important
- Be a good parent - love your family
Fortune cookie material? Maybe. But, also clearly some of the most important lessons that can be learned. And, not surprisingly, these are some of the exact same lessons that Judaism is trying to remind us of, constantly. Life is best lived by focussing on that which really matters, and really sustains, while doing our best to ignore, or get rid of, everything which makes life painful, or vapid. That doesn't mean that we're supposed to be hedonists - to do whatever we want, whenver we want, because it feels good. There's a difference between pleasure and positivity (that's not the right word, but it's close enough for right now, I think. You get the idea). Focus on what really matters.
Rabbi Larry Kushner once taught me that the purpose of a spiritual life is to live each moment as if you just walked away from a car crash, unscathed. You get that heightened sense of awareness, and of appreciation. You understand, fully, about the difference between what really matters, and what doesn't. Religion, spiritual practice, is supposed to give us that sense, without the absolute horror of actual impending doom.
If you have a quiet couple of minutes today, do yourself a favor and watch that video. Simple, obvious and unbelievably powerful.
And, a hat-tip to Janice, for sending the link!