The saying goes, “We all have a battle to fight.” For some of us, it’s more real than just words on a page. It’s more than mere thoughts of the day about dragons to slay, bones to pick, or ladders to climb. It’s that moment when real life reaches up, slaps you down hard and plants your face in the dirt. It’s that moment when your heart sinks, your head pounds and your knees go weak from the weight of the realization that everything is not okay. Your mind can’t process what you saw or heard, but your body reacts faster than you can, and it all just goes black for few seconds. You can’t catch your breath, you can’t think, you can’t digest any of it. It’s when it feels like time stands still in that moment while your brain tries to process it all.
It seems like a good day for reflection, a time to ponder the state of my heart since it’s Valentine’s weekend. Much has happened since my cross country flight back in January. In many ways, I’m no longer the same as I was, but in other ways, maybe I’m more.
Today (December 26/27) marks the tenth anniversary of the Indonesian Tsunami, and my youngest son’s tenth birthday. We will always remember this terrible tragedy in the wake of the gift of my son, Jason. I remember both vividly, and was moved by each with a deep emotional connection. Life is marked by moments of intense loss and grief, with gifts of life and joy. We cannot have one without the other it seems. On this day, we remember and think of the loss that was endured by those affected by such an unbelievable duel with nature. My son even understands the connection he has with this disaster. He’s read many books about the tsunami and what occurred across the other side of the world. He, like many of us, has only experienced it from pictures and words on a page. It’s good for him to know and understand that our world can change suddenly but even amongst tragedy, joy can be found.
Today we remember as we do every year, but we are also celebrating his birthday with a trip to one of our favorite places, the US National Whitewater Center. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful place near our home in Charlotte, North Carolina. http://usnwc.org/
Today is a departure from flying for another thing I love to do, hiking. Climbing the Pinnacle Trail at Crowders Mountain State Park to the 1705 foot height is like being at pattern altitude at my airport. The view is like looking down from a plane and seeing the sights below. I love the climb. It’s two miles of strenuous climbing uphill, and even for a seasoned hiker it takes effort to make it up the last quarter mile to the top.
In some ways, I’m a little strange when it comes to change. It’s something I’ve always embraced fairly eagerly. There’s something exciting about change and it’s usually a good thing. It means I’m stretching myself and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It’s not ever easy but I find it to be exhilarating once you take that first step. It feels like falling once you start and then; once you get your footing, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
I stand here today at 51, looking back over this past year, and reflecting on all the things that I’ve done and all the changes that have occurred. It’s a good feeling and I’ve had a great year, full of new challenges, and new adventures. There are things I would change if I could; but I can’t, so I move on with the idea that life is still good in spite of any setbacks or heartaches that I’ve experienced. There were new friends made, connections found with old friends again and some loss of other friends along the way.
An Andy Stanley quote, “When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near.”
The first time I ever saw this quote, I thought it was the most depressing thing I had ever heard. I thought long and hard about it. I realize that it’s about the end of life. When you talk to older people, all they tell you about is memories of days past. They aren’t talking about tomorrow or next year or even ten years from now. They reminisce about the days when they were young, fond memories of days when they felt alive and energetic. Granted, they usually speak with a genuine fondness for the past, but they aren’t looking toward the future or what they plan to do as the days continue to pass on by.
This week is a little departure from my flying experiences as there has been much sadness that I have encountered this week. I have been moved to take a long look at life and in the process penned some introspective thoughts. I know it may not be what you’re expecting at times but this blog is about the adventure of life and making changes or just taking a chance regardless of age. It’s about trying to inspire others in spite of difficulties.