4 April 2015

Before

Those poor passengers aboard the ill-fated Germanwings Flight 9525 - if only they had known what was to happen. That March morning so much of life lay ahead - seemingly endless with yet more treasures to discover. But that was before. They had no way of knowing what was to come and they had never even heard of Andreas Lubitz.

And the same was true of John Kennedy on the morning of Friday November 22nd 1963. Before the bullet exploded in his skull, he had no idea that it was coming. He and Jackie had had breakfast together in The Hotel Texas  in Fort Worth before an official event in the hotel's Crystal Room and all of that happened before the fateful drive east to Dallas.

And any ordinary person, before their car crash, before the heart attack, before the lottery win, before their stroke, before the divorce, before the cancer diagnosis. They look in the mirror. They grab their keys. They venture out to meet another day, oblivious to what is about to happen. In the bliss of ignorance. Before.

If only we knew what was coming, we would make different arrangements, say different things, act differently - even if we couldn't actually avoid the event just ahead. We would be prepared.

Of course there is a sense in which we are all living in the land of before. Squandering time before something life-changing happens to us or to our nearest and dearest. It will come. And when it happens we might look back on how it was before - as if to a world of innocence - a land of smiles when troubles were quite microscopic in comparison. The golden, beautiful land of before.

23 comments:

  1. The time I dislike most is that few seconds of transition when you realize things are about to change and you aren't going to like it. The latest time of transition for me was the moment I saw a rock fly out of a truck towards my windshield last week. There was a split second of terror, anger, regret (why did I have to leave home when I did?), hope (maybe it won't break the windshield), then relief when it only left a large round spot, not a shattered glass. And then anger again when I realized I'd have to deal with the insurance company and have it replaced. It's amazing how many thoughts can run through your head in those transition moments just after BEFORE.

    About the plane. If the pilot had been Muslim, we'd all be pointing and accusing. Mental health is something we all (including the pilot's doctors) find convenient to ignore.

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    1. I agree with Jan ~ so much can run through one's mind in that transition period (I like her turn of phrase) between BEFORE and AFTER. Yorky, as I read your post today I wondered if you would turn your hand to a poem on this topic?

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    2. Yes ladies - in some circumstances there will be a transition phase between what was before and what comes after. Carol - thank you for noticing and encouraging my poetry endeavours. The urge to create is like the tide - it ebbs and flows. And Jan - yes we shouldn't condemn that German co-pilot too much. It was clear that something was wrong but the system failed to stop him. As in many situations, it was the system's fault.

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    3. I think the "system" is generally at fault because we like to think that creating such a thing is superior to our own judgment. I'll bet there was someone who knew that fellow had a problem, but relied on the system to take care of it.

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  2. There's an upside of this, you know, says she in a bright, Pollyanna voice.
    May I direct you to http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/post/64620271186/lachesism

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    1. Thanks for the link Pollyanna. I checked it out. Quite thought-provoking.

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  3. And you have updated your blog photo!

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    1. As a former teacher I have waited a long while to post a true likeness of myself - just in case malicious brats I used to teach stumbled across it. Don't get me wrong. The vast majority were decent people but there were a few who weren't. Hence my pseudonymous blog.

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  4. Precisely for what you say in the next-to-last paragraph of your post, I will be forever grateful about the last time I saw my husband alive: We hugged and kissed each other good-bye (as usual when one of us left for work), and all was well between us; no silly arguments about insignificant matters, no harsh words or grudges. Neither of us had any idea that, just a few hours later, he'd be dead and I'd be a widow.

    On the other hand, even when we know someone we love is going to die soon because they are terminally ill, we are never really prepared for that final moment, are we?

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    1. It is lovely that your last living memory of Steve is a good one. That must have helped the healing process Miss A. When we know a loved one is terminally ill, we may not be fully prepared for the end and its aftermath but I think there will be a healthy measure of preparedness.

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  5. Your post is very philosophical – the world of before the unimaginable. I was in a plane years ago that made an extreme emergency landing with a fire in the cargo. I thought “is it the time?” I felt OK and fine and quite alive, not ready to call it quit. Luckily we landed. You gave me the idea to write about it in my next post. Before can also bring great joys – before knowing the loved grandchild, before traveling to a wonderful place and so on.

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    1. It is gratifying that my "philosophical" post has sparked something in you Vaga. And yes "before" can be a pleasant place when you know what is round the corner.

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  6. If I knew that IT was about to happen, I would make sure that I put underwear on.

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    1. You are short of underwear Mama Thyme? I shall look out for some at the charity shop I work in on Wednesday afternoons. Don't worry - it will have been freshly laundered.

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  7. As someone who grew up in and around Fort Worth, I want to tell you that the place where the Kennedys had breakfast on the morning of November 22, 1963, was never called the Hotel Texas by locals either before or after. It has always been called the Texas Hotel. I thought you would want to know, so as to prevent your getting the cart before the horse, as it were.

    Also, people in Miami say Miam-uh and people in Missouri say Missour-uh and people in Cincinnati say Cincinnat-uh. Don't ever say Boca Ra-tahn, Florida, say Boca Ra-tone, Florida.

    Dont' ask why. Just do it. It ingratiates you with the locals and separates you from media people, who couldn't care less about the locals.

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    1. I was going to write Texas Hotel until I checked out the hotel's website - then I amended my blogpost. I am very sorry if I have offended you by writing Hotel Texas. I know how sensitive Fort Worthians can be.

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  8. Interesting, and true, thoughts YP. Of course we are never ready for the unexpected, and normally never expect anything to happen to us - it always happens to the other guy. The last few weeks have been hitting close to home though - first, two of the people killed in the Tunisian museum terrorist/lunatic attack, were the grandparents of one of my students, off on a 50th wedding anniversary cruise, and now the plane disaster - several people I know have lost friends or work colleagues.

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    1. I am glad that the plane disaster didn't get closer to you than that Brian. But still close enough.

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  9. Your post today has made me think of a time many years ago when I was 17. Crossing a road with some mates late one night when suddenly these car lights came on almost upon us, we scattered in all directions to get out of the way, he ran over one of us who passed away a few hours later. Drunk driver, still comes back to me from time to time,

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    1. What a sad story Craig. The happy high spirits of youth and then in an instant a tragedy that has lived with you and others who were there through the years. If only you had all set off a minute later.

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  10. Before I comment...you have given me pause for thought....

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