Method Acting

A few months ago, I watched from my office window as US Airways pilot Chelsey Sullenberger landed his Airbus A320 on the surface of the Hudson River. Of course this in itself was an amazing feat, but what I found the most remarkable was the response of the New York Waterway ferries (12 in all). Quite literally within seconds, commuter ferries from both the New York and New Jersey sides of the river mobilized to locate survivors.

It is that quick action borne from gut instinct that impresses me. In such situations I, a person who weighs every possible outcome, every nuance of every angle, would probably stand stock still gawking and pointing until someone else offered up a viable plan. You could say all of this second-guessing is due to a lack of trust in my intuition, but really that comes from a failure to live in the Now. In fact author and illustrator Florence Scovel Shinn wrote that intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.

Superb athletes, battlefield soldiers and pilots about to crash often describe the “zone” of intuition when they are completely entranced in what they are doing in that moment. Using their training, they simply react. Make that superb athletes, battlefield soldiers, pilots about to crash and one Chad Lindsey, an actor/proofreader.

Chad was waiting on the Penn Station C platform yesterday afternoon when a man took a swan dive onto the tracks. He hit his head on the rail and passed out. Our hero’s (although he is very uncomfortable with that term) intuition kicked in and he didn’t hesitate. “I dropped my bag and jumped down there. I tried to wake him up,” Chad said. “He probably had a massive concussion at that point…He just wouldn’t wake up, and he was bleeding all over the place.”

Chad saw the glow of the train’s headlights reflecting on the tracks as it approached the station. Did he panic? No way. Chad was in the zone. And his current role in an Off Broadway show that requires him to repeatedly lift another character who can’t walk didn’t hurt either. He grabbed the man under the armpits and hoisted him toward the platform. “It’s kind of higher than you think it is.” Some men on the platform pulled the man up and then Chad hopped up himself with 10 to 15 seconds to spare before the train barreled in.

The EMTs arrived and whisked the man to the hospital. Chad hopped on the next arriving train and went about his business. “It was quite a New York day,” he told a New York Times reporter who tracked Chad down only after his friends saw this post and outed him.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m weighing the difficult options of taking the 2 express or staying on the 1 local.


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