I am flying through life, cruising in a flight path between two other aircraft, each flying in opposite directions. Each one being piloted by two amazing flight instructors…
I just had the last face to face conversation I will ever have with my father. He’ll be on hospice soon and though I’m not sure when he’ll go, I am certain we just met eye to eye for the final time. I’m back at my hotel now preparing to head back from Las Vegas to my home in San Diego in the morning. Our final conversation was not the best one my father and I ever had but it certainly was not the worst. There were smiles and humor.
My father is an airplane, descending and preparing for his final approach. It might be a bumpy landing, but it shouldn’t be a crash. As I left him this evening, I honored him with a warm kiss on the head, I told him that I love him, and I quickly swallowed some tears as I turned my back and walked away from him for the last time. My final memory of seeing my father alive will be one of seeing him in a wheelchair, eating a green Otter Pop, and arguing with his care giver about some little thing.
The Take Off
This morning, before I left to spend my final day with my father, I received and email from my daughter, now living in Athens, Greece. It was an upbeat correspondence. She shared a few stories with me full of local flavor, and she attached some pictures of the city. Not the touristy kind of pictures one might expect, but pictures of places which need to be sniffed out. My daughter has a good nose for, off the beaten path.
With clear skies and adventures ahead, the airplane of my daughter’s life is just taking off. Her course is upward and wide open. Brave, intelligent, and curious, my daughter’s flight through life will no doubt be scenic, perhaps a bit bumpy at times, and will be in great contrast to the flight of my father. She’s already a good pilot and getting better every year.
Cruising Altitude: Me, Part I
For my part, I am now in a flight pattern sandwiched somewhere between the flight paths of my father and my daughter. I am at the cruising altitude of life. Having flown small planes in real life, I can say that the cruising part is boring. Taking off and landing, that’s where the excitement is, and where the best lessons are learned. There is much though, that I can learn from observing the current flight paths of both my father and my daughter. Lessons which can help me steer a better course for the remainder of my trip; that I enjoy the views and have a quality landing with little regret.
I will try and learn from the examples my daughter sets before me, as well as to remember the examples my father had set. There is much wisdom from each. My father worked hard to provide me with a good life. He taught me much, and most of what I have today, I owe to my father’s hard work, love and dedication. But what I can learn from my daughter is invaluable because it’s fresh, sincere, and rooted in the infallible self-belief of her own free will and directionality.
Mulan On Steroids
She had planned to move from Chicago to Athens to study abroad for seven months. Things didn’t go so well on moving day. The day she was to depart for Athens, the company she had contracted to pick up and store her belongings did not come through. Rather than admit defeat and contact her friends or another moving company for help, my daughter took matters into her own hands; U-Haul.
She had rarely driven outside the suburban community where she grew up, Temecula, CA. She had never driven in the snow, had never driven anything larger than an economy car, and had never driven in the city. So when she found herself in a moving van, in downtown Chicago, in a snow storm, with just a few hours to spare to put all her furniture and belongings into storage and hop a plane to Greece, I cringed and I doubted severely. Despite my doubt, or perhaps because of it, she would move her entire 5th story apartment in these conditions, by herself, and in just over a few hours – queen bed included. For all of her academic accomplishments, I saw this as her finest hour. She made the plane to Athens on time.
Cruising Altitude: Me, Part II
For nearly a year, I have been writing about making positive changes in my life – about taking back my potential – cutting out the drinking, eating completely clean, and avoiding the inherent turbulence on the flight path of life in modernity. Well, I haven’t done too well with that plan. I have simply cruised on autopilot, letting my momentum carry me forward from week to week. I have let momentum chart my course. With that lack of planning and discipline, I can’t believe I’m still airborne.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I am hopeful in the context this day – of seeing my daughter’s flight taking off, and my father’s flight landing, I will apply lessons from both journeys, that I make better choices for my own. At the very least, maybe I can avoid that dreaded “water landing”. Be well. rc
Please check back in two weeks to see what transpires when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Finger Eleven. Enjoy….