Life, Death, and Plane Crashes by John Cali

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Life, Death, and Plane Crashes

Last week, on a cold foggy night in Buffalo, New York, Continental Flight 3407 suddenly spiraled down into a fiery crash five miles from its destination.

John Cali

The plane, for those of you who might not know, crashed on its final approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport about 10:20 that dark foggy night in Buffalo. Fifty people died, including all passengers and crew members, plus one man on the ground.

The sad events in Buffalo had a particularly poignant personal meaning for me. The next night, as I read about them, my thoughts carried me back to a time long ago, to what seemed like another lifetime in a dim and distant past.

I grew up in a small farm town on the shores of Lake Erie just west of Buffalo. In my younger years I worked in the aviation industry, including a short stint as an air traffic controller in Buffalo. I was also a pilot with Colgan Air of Manassas, Virginia, the commuter operator of the Continental Airlines plane that crashed that night at Buffalo. Though I was a Colgan pilot many years ago, I still know people in the company.

So my personal “coincidental” connections to this event were curious and mystifying. What was it all about? Was there some cosmic meaning in all this for me?

I don’t fear death, and rejoice when someone I love dies, because I know they’ve gone Home and are happy in their new lives. In fact, we wrote an article several weeks ago about the death of a close friend of mine.

But this seemingly catastrophic plane crash got me thinking again about life and death, and what it’s all about.

Even though I know there are no “accidents” and death is not the end of us, that night I felt an overwhelming sadness, something I rarely experience these days. I just wanted someone here to talk to.

Of course, I always have Spirit. But that night I wanted someone in the flesh here with me. I felt lonely, something else I almost never feel at this point in my life, even though I’ve lived alone many years.

Last weekend I did talk to Spirit. Here’s what he/they said.


Any events out of what you consider “ordinary” are often difficult, even painful, for you. The Buffalo crash is certainly one of those.

It gives you pause to think about what your US President Barack Obama, in response to the crash, said about “the fragility of life.”

Your physical lives certainly appear fragile to you. And if you die young or by “accident” you consider it tragic. Yet it is not. All is as it should be.

John, as he explained, was deeply saddened by the events at Buffalo, especially because of his personal connections to the events. He also said death holds no fear for him, and that’s true.

What was going on with him was this: He was “tuning in,” if you will, to the human drama of that night. He was viewing, from his human perspective, the pain, the grief, the anger of the families and friends of the crash “victims.”

Of course, there are no victims. Every person who died that night had decided, on some level of their awareness, it was time for them to return to Spirit. They are all fine, and happy now.

Yet the human drama remains. And, of course, the human survivors, the families and friends, remain — many, if not all, of them, in intense pain.

But it is useless for you to take on another’s pain as John did. In fact, you cannot take it on. But what you can and often do is to observe the pain of others and then, in your observance, create your own pain.

That, friends, does neither you nor those you wish to help any good whatsoever. You are useless, of no value to those in pain and suffering if you also are in pain and suffering.

The best thing you can do is to do whatever it takes to return to that place of peace and power within you. To do whatever it takes to be happy — and to find joy in even these seemingly tragic circumstances.

As John implied, those fifty souls decided to die, and now they are far happier than most of those who remain behind.

It took John a couple of days to realize his sense of sadness and loneliness were of no use to him, and certainly not to any of the people in the crash or to their human survivors.

It is only from your internal place of connection with the peace and power of who you really are that you are empowered to help others. You cannot take on their pain, but you can help them regain their sense of joy. You can help them regain that sure knowing that all truly is well.

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