That Feeling When – March 12th

That feeling when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and exhausted and maybe even a bit panicky because there’s just SO MUCH HAPPENING ALL AT ONCE and an awful lot of it is bad and scary and threatening and all you can see are the worst case scenarios and you’re grateful when something that happens that is simply BAD instead of really, Really, REALLY BAD so you’re looking for answers and a plan and something that’s not just striking out in anger and fear and that little voice in your head asks, “Do you need to re-invent the wheel? There must be groups that have dealt with things like this before, what do they do?” and that’s when, if you can remember to keep reminding yourself that you have had some training and education in that regard and the lessons were to simplify, focus, prioritize, endure, persist, and above all, “Fly the plane!”

You’ll pardon me if I’ve mentioned it before, but that’s a critical one and worth repeating.

“Fly the plane!”

To wit, my flight instructor asked me during a takeoff what I would do if the door next to me came unlatched and came open suddenly. I figured I would try to close it or see if I could hold it with one hand or… Wait, you’re at a critical stage of flight where a distraction can be fatal. Pull up too steeply and stall, roll a bit to one side or the other, don’t pay attention to those tall smokestacks over there, slow down and lose airspeed — and you’re a statistic. Will the door being open cause the plane to crash? In fact, no, it won’t. It will be distracting and scary and loud and unexpected – but your job is to ignore all of that and “Fly the plane!” The door coming open won’t kill you, but being distracted by it might.

“In fact, the door DID come unlatched for me a few months later, and it is a loud, startling occurrence. But I flew the plane until I got to pattern altitude and had a moment to breathe, then I got the door shut again. It was a non-event because I “flew the plane!”)

That theme occurred over and over. What if the engine quits? Okay, you try to re-start it, check fuel, look for a place to land, call for help… but do it all while flying the plane.

In life, right now, there are a lot of scary distractions that seem threatening. But in fact, very, very few are potentially fatal or as disastrous as we might think. As long as we keep remember to “fly the plane.”

1 Comment

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

One response to “That Feeling When – March 12th

  1. It was that sort of thing that I got from Chris Hadfield’s wonderful Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth… sweat the small stuff. If you haven’t read it, do.


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