"It will take months to get them out," [said Chilean President Sebastian Pinera]. "They'll come out thin and dirty, but whole and strong."It's hard to begin to imagine the emotions of the men and the people above ground who love them. First, the shock of the cave-in, with the uncertainty — both underground and above — about survival. Then the 17-day wait, with hope and suffering changing all the time. Then, the immense joy of contact, the families above ground all learning their men are alive and well and the men knowing their loved ones know they haven't died. All the basics of getting food and water. The comfort of notes back and forth. The window to the outside world that is the camera. What a relief to know that rescue is coming. But the wait is so long.
Mr Pinera also saw images of the miners taken by a camera that was lowered down the borehole....
"Many of them approached the camera and put their faces right up against it, like children, and we could see happiness and hope in their eyes," Mr Pinera said.
Think what it must be like to be trapped in a group that size, for that long. What do you think they are doing, with all that time? I assume that, since they were miners, they have mental resources for dealing with the fears of confinement and danger that far exceed ours, so maybe it is a bit presumptuous to try to put ourselves in their place, but let's try. I think I would devote myself, above all, to preserving a calm attitude for everyone. You couldn't have any fighting or craziness.
Then, what would you do about the boredom? You would talk, but perhaps you'd get sick of the men who talk too much, and you can't have talk that is upsetting or arguments about what's okay to talk about and what isn't. There would be much prayer, maybe too much for some people. But there are 33 of you, you'd break into small groups or pairs. Some would be religious, others would play games or tell stories. Some would keep to themselves. Would you make sure that no one was despairing or lonely?
There are some ways in which the terrible limitations would intensify the richness of life. And, upon rescue, the true richness of ordinary life will be brilliantly obvious to them. The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?