My mother and I have a new tradition we started the last few months. We like to sneak away in the afternoon and go to one of those fancy dine-in theaters where we sit in huge recliners, lay back, and they bring our overpriced food and drink right to our seats. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.
As we sink into our seats the other day, mom sipping her vanilla latte, Sully came on the screen. You know Sully; the pilot who landed the US Air flight in the Hudson River and saved 155 people from certain death. As the movie played, I found myself in awe at so many aspects. First, this entire event from takeoff to rescue was only 30 minutes. A life-changing 30 minutes, but 30 nonetheless. Second, the actual bird strike and emergency landing in the Hudson was only 208 seconds. They kept saying it in the movie… 208 seconds. Third, it dawned on me that this man spent his entire life preparing for precisely that 208 seconds.
Sully spent his entire life studying flight, airplanes, crashes, mechanics, and everything else related to flying. He was not a pilot, he was an expert. And never before did he need those skills more than in those 208 seconds. When this happened everyone raved about him being a hero, and how what he did was unprecedented because passengers rarely survive water landings. Perhaps for a pilot this outcome would have been very different, but Sully wasn’t a pilot, he was an expert.
I may have had a very different experience with this movie than most people because I felt a deep connection to the message I heard. Like Sully, I spent my entire life preparing for a brief but catastrophic event. Not once did I ever think that one day I would be required to make an extraordinary choice, to live or die. But I did. And in that moment, bloody, bruised, and broken, when I had to choose, every piece of my life puzzle counted.
Every lesson of strength and perseverance I learned from my mom, every teacher that took a moment to spend with me, every friend who ever loved me and valued me my whole life mattered in that moment. Without all of that love, acceptance, and patience I could have never faced the battle that was in front of me- I wouldn’t have had the strength if all of those people had not made me strong.
As a professional, I feel I have a responsibility. Like Sully, I spend much of my time studying my passion. If people are going to turn to me for leadership, I sure the hell better know what is going on in my work and in my industry. I don’t get to do my work because I went to college- Social Work school didn’t even teach me about addiction… at all. I get to do this work because I dedicate my life to it. I want to know it inside and out, I want to know what is happening, how it works, and how it is changing everyday. That is the responsibility I have to the people and families that turn to me for answers.
I am a person who believes nothing happens by accident. Each rejection, success, and person in our lives is placed there strategically and purposefully. For me, I know that each piece of my life, every experience I had, every life lesson, heart break, and every friend were to prepare me for my future. I didn’t know it then, but I definitely know it now.