By Rhonda Stanley
Apple genius Steve Jobs read a quote at the age of 17 that stuck with him: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” A very good friend of our family and godfather of one of my daughters came close to his last day on October 27th, 2011. He was a passenger on Northern Thunderbird Air Flight 204, which crashed 900 meters short of Runway 26 at Vancouver International Airport.
Our friend is a successful independent business owner, and was travelling to the BC Okanagan to attend a Weekend Retreat with his CEO peers from other businesses. While some of the group elected to drive the 4 hours, another group (my friend included) chartered flight 204 so they could put in a full day at the office before taking the 1 hour flight to Kelowna.
He was fully conscious and aware during the horrific events of that afternoon. He later recalled to me: “after the crash landing, there wasn’t a sound or movement in the cabin. My first thoughts were to remain calm, don’t panic, and assess the situation for danger’.
My friend could see smoke and flames ahead of him, at the front of the craft. Recognizing the danger, he knew he had to marshal all of his energy into getting himself, and everyone else, out of the wreckage. As he tried to get out of his seat, he collapsed to the floor. He could tell something was wrong, but he didn’t know the extent of his injuries. Nevertheless, he used what strength he had to free himself.
After several attempts, he was able to force open the back door of the fuselage. Good Samaritans poured in to extricate more of the passengers before the situation became too dangerous. The fire was spreading, and smoke threatened to overwhelm the cabin.
Luckily, my friend was the first to get out of the downed airplane. He suffered a fractured vertebra and some torn muscles. The pilot succumbed to his injuries that evening, and the co-pilot remains in critical condition with burns to 80% of his body. 5 people from the crash still remain in hospital. Physically, my friend is going to be fine. Emotionally however, he will no doubt be healing for many years to come.
Events like this have a way of changing our perspectives. My friend has dedicated the vast majority of his time to building a family business. He also has a wife and 4 children. In our group of friends, we all have careers and families, so it can be difficult to find time to get together; sadly, we can usually only manage it once or twice a year.
After the crash, my friend told me: “I won’t be too busy anymore”.
Steve Jobs read that now-famous aphorism when he was 17; every day for 33 years, when he looked in the mirror he would ask himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” He said if the answer was “NO” too many days in a row, he knew something would have to change.
I challenge each of you to remember the last time you lived your day as though it was your last – and I don’t mean partied so hard one night that the next day you wished it had been your last!
Having listened to my friend and the second chance at life he has been given, it makes you evaluate your life and your lifestyle. Are you really doing what you love to do?