“That scene still haunts me. The explosion and then five minutes. If only I… If only I… and then the capsule hits the water, it’s all over. Then you realize it’s all the same– five minutes, five days, 50 years. It’s all the same, for it’s over before we realize…. It may be the last time… stop, appreciate the blessings you have. ‘If only I could’- you still can, you’ve got today.”
The New York Times ran a really interesting piece on Rabbi Kenneth Berger this week. The Rabbi gave a Yom Kippur sermon the year of the Challenger Explosion that contained the above quote, reflecting what it would be like to stare at death from five minutes away. Only a few years later, in 1989, the Rabbi and his wife experienced exactly what he preached about, being killed in a plane crash over the Midwest.
Time is a crazy thing. This year I’ve had to say goodbye to two family members who’ve lived very long and full lives, and yet they felt too short. I’ve had to wait and countdown the weeks until grad school is finished, and that feels like forever. And all while this is going on, I’ve got no idea how much time I’ve got left.
Something about life’s brevity and uncertainty gives it so much value, and it gives today so much value. There are nights where it’s tempting to want to go from one errand to the next, connecting the dots into the next day. You’ve only got so much time to do that before you don’t get to anymore. Not with the people around you right now. Not in the place you’re in right now.