I survived….but why?
Last week, a plane crashed right off UCSD’s campus. The pilot was killed instantly. The crash site is near my commute to work. Fortunately, no one on the ground was injured, but it was an extremely close brush with death for about 100 people who live or work near the crash.
An eyewitness said, “A couple feet higher, and he would hit a house based on his flight path.”
As you may know, I am also a pilot. I have flown the same kind of small plane that crashed along that same route. Maybe it’s natural to think I wouldn’t make such a mistake — running out of fuel on a foggy, rainy night after a long cross-country flight traversing southern California’s coastal mountains. But such thoughts are dangerous speculation, and I am slightly ashamed to admit them.
But as I said recently, following the terrorist attacks on Israel, which occurred barely two weeks after I was in Tel Aviv, brushes with death invariably lead to a profound reevaluation of life’s priorities. In the aftermath of such a harrowing event, the fragility of life becomes strikingly apparent. Suddenly, the mundane and routine aspects of daily life pale in comparison to the more significant, existential questions about our purpose and values. Yet, what is life if not a series of mundanity punctuated by moments of agony, ecstasy, or something in between?
This reevaluation led to a heightened appreciation for the present moment. The precious time with loved ones, the importance of pursuing passions, and the value of contributing positively to the world gain newfound significance. Priorities shift away from material pursuits and superficial concerns towards more meaningful, fulfilling endeavors.
The local news spoke to a woman who lives just above where the plane crashed. She wished not to be identified by name.
“My brother said, ‘This is your lucky day, go buy a lottery ticket,’” she recalled, looking down at the mangled plane.
Life can change in an instant. Stack enough instants together, and you get a life. Realize that sometimes you just get lucky. Or blessed. Express gratitude. That’s all that matters.
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving. I’m grateful to share the universe with you.
A few years back, I participated in a 90-minute summit with some of the world’s leading physicists. We discuss the search for a theory that finishes what Einstein began and ties together all the forces of the universe. Can that ever be achieved? Will it be achieved? When?
“Sciences are more complicated than ‘Was there a Big Bang or not?’ It’s never a simple yes or no.”
– Michael Turner
In this week’s conversation with Michael Turner, we talked about all things dark energy. Did you know that it makes up more than ⅔ of ALL matter in the universe?
Michael Turner is a renowned theoretical cosmologist and professor of physics at the University of Chicago. He is a pioneer in exploring what he calls the dark side of the Universe. He coined the term dark energy, and his ideas led to the cold dark matter theory of structure formation.
Michael’s contributions to modern physics are invaluable, and I am beyond thrilled to have him as a guest on my show.
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