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My Message to the Woman Stuck High on That Crane

My Message to the Woman Stuck High on That Crane


(In April 2017, a 22-year-old woman spent nearly three hours suspended on a crane above a Toronto construction site. She had climbed down a cable to the pulley device, where she became stranded and had to be rescued by firefighters. The woman faced multiple charges of mischief, and was ordered to stay away from construction sites and rooftops.)

To the woman on the crane, this is for you. I’ve had many imaginary conversations between the two of us since that early April morning you were rescued from so high up.

We first met as a I drove to work. The news report brought you into my life. You were described as having spent “hours perched” as rescuers figured out how to bring you back to safety. I, like mostThe early-morning scene played out in front of a fascinated crowd of the city, had many thoughts on your misadventure. The rescuing firefighter described you as a “brave girl.” He, in turn, was credited as acting “like a late-night talk-show host, keeping you calm.”

The early-morning scene played out in front of a fascinated crowd of onlookers both within the city and via media from around the world. You were safely on the ground just before 8:30 a.m. It could have ended between us then, but it didn’t. I was fascinated by the image. I was certain there was more to this story. We met again the next day, this time with another report—that you were facing six charges of criminal mischief. Made sense.

But I still didn’t want things to end there.

I have questions. I’m still intrigued. But I am worried that the criminal charges will close that door. Why? Because I might see you as “other” and relate more to the “not me” part of your story. I have never had the urge to climb public structures and risk my life. And I’m guessing I’m in good company. I have my theories about the troubles that drove your behavior. I doubt I’ll ever know. What I do want to say is this: me, too. I also have climbed up higher than I should have or needed some rescuing. Thank you for showing an entire city that you can mess up big time, with an entire audience to boot, and make it back to solid ground.

I imagine the moment you realized you were stuck. The sort of flush that came to your face when you saw that you couldn’t get out of this mess alone. It doesn’t take scaling a crane to know the sensation that you are deeply stuck. It might be the big-work-mess-up or the major-life-decision-to-make, but we’ve all been there. No climbing higher. No climbing down. No way out. Or so it seems.

It’s true that alone we can be stuck, but there is another way. Crane woman, you showed us all that with help, it’s possible to get down. When we find ourselves in those scary moments of life, we are likewise entreated to seek help. Long before skyscrapers and construction, King David showed us the way. King David called out to G‑d: “Rescue me from the mire so that I sink not; let me be rescued from my enemies and from the deep waters.” (Tehillim 69:16) What he is teaching us is that we need not hide our feelings of helplessness; rather, they can be the compass pointing to our release. Instead of denying a problem or running from a mistake, we can use it as an opportunity to call out. When everything is going well, it’s hard to feel our total reliance on G‑d. It’s in the “crane moments” of life, when we feel stuck and alone, that we can form a deeper relationship with G‑d. Only from a place of utter dependency can we call out with the conviction of King David. Asking G‑d to “rescue me” is the language of a soul who knows her Creator can get her back to safety.

It takes real courage to say “I can’t do this alone.” It requires strength to say “G‑d, I need your help.” In a world thatIt takes real courage to say “I can’t do this alone.” values independence, self-sufficiency and a do-it-yourself mentality, it is a bold act to proclaim our essential reliance on our Creator. It is an act of strength to feel our vulnerability and admit that alone we cannot manage.

So, crane woman, that’s why this is for you. I am sorry for you. I am also sorry for all the resources and efforts that might have been better used. I’m also grateful for the lesson you taught. It may be easier to see our differences than search out our common humanity. When someone is suffering and the metrics of their life don’t match up with ours, we can keep a comfortable distance. But we lose out. We miss the point—that we all end up in sticky spots.

I hope the crane woman learned from this experience. I know I have. Maybe next time we feel a little stranded or stuck, we’ll remember that we can ask for help and be brave at the same time.

Ilana Rubenstein is a therapist, a mother and teacher at The Village Shul and The Yorkville Jewish Centre in Toronto. Her greatest passion is connecting Torah wisdom to our personal paths and struggles.
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Dani Margolies Israel October 15, 2017

So so beautiful, as usual!! Reply

Judi horowitz Israel October 25, 2017

Love your honest and candid approach to this bizarre event. Can't wait to read your next article ❤️ Reply

Susan J Toronto October 23, 2017

Lovely take on the situation!
Great message! Reply

Anonymous Beitar Illit, Israel October 18, 2017

Crane story My message to the woman stuck high up in that crane. The Jewish woman(this edition):
I enjoyed your ideas parallels and nimshalim. (I will resist saying that your article was "up-lifting." We all need a sense of humor to carry on with daily life. Here the Rebbe's idea of "Think good and it will be good" came to mind." That even thinking good can actually turn something into good. So I'm certain that everything has good within it when we change our thinking about it. Here the good YOU noticed helped to serve as a reminder that Hashem can "lift" us out of all kinds of "situations" presenting themselves (in our thoughts) as being negative to thoughts which are positive. In fact seeing a bit deeper into things they SHOW us the positive within. Reply

Zaharah October 18, 2017

wow .. much depth and 'height' here - what a wonderful article! Reply

Chana Toronto October 17, 2017

This beautifully written piece deeply resonates with me. Looking forward to reading more of this very gifted author's writing.
May G-d grant us all the wisdom and clarity to achieve great heights - in good health and happy spirits! Reply

Anonymous Jacksonville October 16, 2017

I absolutely loved this article! Beautiful thoughts and beautifully written! Reply