Deep Impact

by J.T. Ellison

Time for a deep, philosophical discussion.

One of the movie channels has been replaying DEEP IMPACT ad nauseam this month.  I’ve watched it about six times, picking up in the middle, watching the end, catching the beginning. I like the movie. I like Téa Leoni; she’s one of my favorite actresses.  She’s one of those people I can imagine sitting down with and having a glass of wine, and she’s probably got a plethora of dirty jokes, and she’s married to David Duchovny, who’s just shy of brilliant in CALIFORNICATION, and manages to insert the F word with such laissez-faire… okay, so fan girl motivations aside…

I like the movie because I like the choices being made. Would you give up your ticket to life so you could reconcile with someone you love? Would you give up your ticket to life in the hopes of rescuing someone you love? Would you be a hero, or would you be so relieved that you’ve got the ticket to life that you’d cower in the corner and allow the people you know and love die?

I’m not a big End of Days, waiting for the Rapture kind of girl. I’ve always had a rather pragmatic approach to life. There’s one big problem with it. You can’t get out alive. To be honest, when I was young, I had the most morbid fascination — I was absolutely positive that I wasn’t going to make twenty-one. Yes, I am a Billy Joel fan. But in all seriousness, I was living a truncated life, not quite doing all the things I should do, not entirely taking things as seriously as I could have, because it seemed a bit pointless. I wasn’t going to make it to twenty-one, did my GPA really matter? Was a laude going to make a difference? Hardly.

I was rather stupid about the whole "life" thing. I was a complete agnostic, drank much too much, fell in puppy love much too easily, didn’t take things seriously enough. Funny how different we are when we’re in college.

And on my twenty-first birthday, I drove back to school from a weekend at home with my lovely parents, stopping at liquor stores along the way. I had a trunk full of booze and never got carded. Every time a car appeared on the horizon (the road to school was a lovely meander through the Virginia countryside) I expected them to veer off at the last second, causing a head on collision, ending my life. I made it to school unscathed. No pianos dropped on my head when I was entering the dorm. No hostage shootouts ensued. And when I went to bed that night, not at all drunk because I had a final in the morning, I had a strange thought. I’d lived to see twenty-one. Which surely meant I’d either die in my sleep or immediately upon waking in the morning, in some sort of horrific shower incident.

I didn’t, of course. When I hit twenty-two, I was rather astounded. At twenty-three, newly hooked up with this awfully cute guy, in grad school, working at the White House, I begrudgingly admitted that perhaps, just perhaps, I was wrong about dying young.

I’m still pragmatic about death. I’m happy. If I weren’t, I’d probably feel much differently. But as it stands, I love and I am loved. I have great satisfaction and contentment from my career. My philosophy is to live each day to the fullest, tell those around me that I love them, and be thankful for each morning, and for each dusk.

When I watch DEEP IMPACT, I think about what I would do if I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that all life was going to cease, and it was completely out of my control. (I smell a book in there, too.)  Would I get on a plane and go to Italy? Would I want to read a book, make love to my husband, be with my family, get drunk? Would I want to try things I’ve never tried before, or be content that I’ve lived my life, and sit back and wait for it to happen? Would I write?

So to that end, without being too morbid, what would you do if you found out that the world was going to end in the next 24 hours?

Wine of the Week:

Two wines today. One a lovely red that surprised me — Sacred Stone – Master’s Red Blend

And because I’m in a celebratory mood, a bit of the bubbly — Zardetto Prosecco

PS – This was another of those bizarrely prescient posts. Click here
for a slideshow
that will give you an idea of what it was like here
in middle Tennessee Tuesday night. God bless those who didn’t make it through okay, and those who did.

18 thoughts on “Deep Impact

  1. Catherine

    First thought that came to mind,after connecting with loved ones, was I’d go sailing. Which is really strange as I’ve not sailed since I was a teenager. As a teenager I was sort of half sure I wouldn’t live long…My best friend’s brother struggled in and out of remission with a brain tumour from 6 to when he died at 16, which gives you a different view of mortality in your formative years. I know I took a lot of risks from when I was young trying to cram a lot of living as a result. I still have my mother convinced that the only way I did survive my teenage years was courtesy of my nan and countless rosaries.

    Maybe the pure giddiness I remember of sailing is a good thing to approach now I’m cusping on middle age….preempt the whole only 24 hours thingo and just be the nike ad.

  2. billie

    I’d have one of my regular easy days here at home, with horses and cats and dogs and my children and husband.

    I’d probably read some passages from favorite books and listen to some favorite songs.

    Prepare and eat a special meal.

    Write a few pages.

  3. Zoe Sharp

    Wow, JT, those pictures are scary. I hadn’t heard anything about the devastation over here.

    And as a friend of ours from Florida said, when we’d survived 130mph winds at home that removed part of our slate roof: “You’re now a fully paid-up member of the Huff, Puff and Blow Your House Down Club!”

    And I think I’m with Catherine. I’d take my husband Andy sailing on the biggest fastest catamaran I could find. He, of course, would steal a Nissan Skyline GT-R and head for the Nurburgring …

  4. Ali

    I had to smile at your post JT, as the SkyArts Blog asked me and few other bloggers what book would they select if the world was ending :-

    Also, I loved DEEP IMPACT, end scene when Tea hugs her father and says ‘daddy’ when the end comes always makes me cry –


  5. JT Ellison

    Ken, the check is in the mail… You are the sweetest man!

    Catherine, I love the sailing off into the sunset image. What a great thought.

    Billie, that sounds like a lovely day!

  6. JT Ellison

    Zoe, I can’t seem to escape the natural disaster club. Hurricanes or avalanches or fires my parents, tornadoes here… I’ve even been in a minor earthquake, but that was in Salem, Massachusetts, if you can believe that. I’ve been chased away from home, evacuated and frightened. But never so much as on Tuesday. It was horrific.

    Christa, I’ve added the movie to my Netflix. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. JT Ellison

    Ali, what a coincidence! I’ve been looking the SkyArts site over — A — thanks for the link to such a cool site, and B — nice choice!

    Aw, see, I get all choked up at the Daddy part too.

    Runliarun — in the end, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? BTW, what’s Lia running from?

  8. toni

    If it’s really only 24 hours and I don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess, I’d have a big party and have all of the family and friends over. We’ve done those from time-to-time and had so much fun connecting. And then, when it was over, spend the rest of the time with my husband.

  9. JT Ellison

    Toni, this is when the transporter would come in handy. You could gather everyone at a moments notice. Sounds like a fun party!

    Louise, I think you and I are in line.

  10. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I think I’d end up just sitting on the porch, or on the beach if I could get to it, and talking to people I love.

    I hate to think that I’d spend the last 24 hours of my life on the phone – I can’t stand talking on the phone – but realistically, that’s how it would go.

  11. Mike MacLean

    How would I spend my last day on earth? That’s an easy one. I’d spend my very last breaths hunting down and executing the “comedian” Carrot Top.

    I’d forego the time with family and friends. Forego the great meal and fantastic wine. Forego everything just to fill that bastard’s belly full of hot lead. Then I’d close my eyes and wait for the sweet, sweet darkness, sure that I just gained a spot for myself in heaven.


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