That morning was the first in ages I hadn’t looked up the news online as soon as I got out of bed. Naturally, I was left in the dark about things that were going on in my own neighbourhood. My good friend E. was quick to spread the news so he called me.Didn’t you hear?(…no, today I didn’t , clevercloggs!) Why? What happened, did Wall Street crash again?No, but a helicopter did!Whattttt?Yep, you heard right, this morning a helicopter hit a crane that was suspended from a tower in Vauxhall, and crashed on the ground. IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD!
Needless to say, within thirty minutes from his phone call, obeying the strong imperative of our curious DNA, we were in Vauxhall, trying to trace on his iPhone the exact location of the accident.
It was neither the macabre curiosity that drives idle people to visit places of accidents, nor the malevolent pleasure attracting derelict old ladies to funerals of strangers that got us there. We are both busy intellectuals (OK, tick the first box), not usually on a diet of schadenfreude, and, obviously, not grannies that keep standing up St Peter, who calls, and calls, and calls…
It was simply the fact that what happened literally fell almost upon us, too close, it could have been us that the helicopter had found, and since we weren’t, we went to find it ourselves. Shamelessly, driven by the startle that keeps survivors chained to the disaster they just escaped.
Of course, there was no glimpse of the fatal helicopter, just a view of the broken crane still suspended from the tower top, hundreds of reporters and TV crews, police and fire brigade, while the actual spot of the crash was cordoned off.
I couldn’t help but remember the conversation I had the previous night with J. She was telling me about a helicopter cruise of New York, and I said, without thinking, “I don’t like helicopters, they scare me”. Why did I ever say something like that? I like flying, was never afraid to be on a plane, I don’t suffer from acrophobia or claustrophobia. However, helicopters are smaller than planes, more amateurish in a sense, therefore they feel more dangerous, exactly like a bicycle seems more fragile than a car. On a plane, one can retain the illusion of being in an enclosed protected space; a helicopter, on the other hand, always seems like it’s about to turn upside down, letting its passengers slip into the void. And we have seen countless cinematic helicopters bursting into flames, exploding like ripe tomatoes, crashing on the walls of skyscrapers like flies, giving tall baddies who forget to lower their foolish heads an extra deep tonsure, turning upside down like helpless beetles, and spiraling like dead birds all the way down to their unavoidable perish.
The day was frosty but the sun was out shining brilliantly over our heads.
The time of the accident, earlier that morning, everything was covered by thick mist.
On our way back, I kept thinking, about the two victims of the crash, the pilot and the slightly more innocent second victim, the man waiting for the bus, how they actually met each other in a fatal rendezvous they had never agreed on.
If they had been late for work that morning, they would have never had met.
And perhaps, later that evening, they would have said to someone else, that ‘today was a really beautiful day’.
The leveling inevitability of chance, the entropy that measures chaos, scares us. I can see my self, opening the curtains one morning to face a giant metallic insect coming my way with the yet unheard bang of an impending crash. I shouldn’t though. What could I ever I do to deter this? Move into a basement? Not open the curtains? Wall-up the window? Run to hide in the bathroom every time a helicopter flies over my building?
No. I will be here. Opening my curtains every single morning to the rain, the snow, and sometimes to a glorious sunshine, and if today is the day I rendezvous with the one that never fails to come, so be it.
Because I try my best everyday: I don’t forget those who are old, and lonely in their little apartments in Greece, like my godmother, whom I call and give an ear to talk for hours, until she forgets she felt unwell earlier that day; and I always give my seat up for those who need it more on the train, (OK, that includes the tall blond slim girl with the red coat, but I only did it because she looked really tired, and was glancing with despair at the fat man with the briefcase who got first to the empty seat next to me; otherwise, in the name of all those short and round friends of mine, I would have ignored her…Stupid blond….); and I always try to let those I love know that I love them, and to be consistent with the responsibilities of friendship, never forgetting birthdays and name days…gosh! Isn’t tomorrow E.’s birthday? I almost forgot. I will send him a nice e-card a minute after midnight.
And because I do all this, or, at least, I have the inclination to do them, if a helicopter lands tomorrow morning on my forehead, the aftermath won’t be my business. It will just be the business of all those who will miss me. Those who (I hope) will have only good things to say about me (you know who you are, you dirty bastards).
I hear that the highest degree of entropy signifies the complete disorganization, (the homogenization of everything), and equals the end of life, or else, of evolution.
That means that instead of hopelessly trying to lower the rates of entropy by not living, we should get rid of our shame and fears.
You should talk to that girl you see every morning waiting for the bus. And you, the girl waiting at the bus stop, smile at him your sweetest smile. And say good morning.
And if all this happens, even if nothing else does, if the helicopter that death drives does show up for that surprise rendezvous, we will at least have the satisfaction that we lived.
That this day was indeed a beautiful day.
Damn, I forgot the card!
TO BE CONTINUED