Saturday, February 15, 2014

Flight Plans

In flying, required on instrument flight plans and a general good idea any other time, pilots file "flight plans".  This is the route one is going to fly, altitude to be flown, how much fuel you have, how many people are on board, expected time of arrival (so someone can look for you if you are late), etc.

One item that goes on there if the weather is forecast to absolute crud (that's a precise meteorological term you usually don't hear on the weather channel), you have an airport to go to instead.  Because in flying, like anything in life, it often doesn't go as planned.

This morning is one such day.  I was supposed to be with Partner for Valentine's Day when another storm hit, dumping six inches of snow all at once on crash pad hamlet and making the roads unsafe.  So this morning I was up early, made homemade yogurt, made some croissants from scratch, and have a pot of coffee and time to write.  Not a bad morning by any stretch, but not what was planned.
If you really think about it, most things go that way.  Brigid Jr, was almost a month overdue.  The doc said I calculated her conception date wrong (no seriously, I was there, I remember).  They finally induced labor as nothing was happening.  She was a couple ounces shy of 10 pounds.  I'd like to have said "I told you so" to my doctor but  after 34 hours of "natural" childbirth  I was uttering other choice words at the time.

How many times have you planned a flight, a vacation, a night out.  Someone gets sick, the weather gets bad, you made the mistake of using a cut rate travel site and your luxury beach romp for $199 per person turned into the Alabama Chain Gang Holiday. How many times did you get that cranky crew chief that didn't like pilots or  prolonged eye contact  (if you do, don't blink, don't ever blink).

How many times did life sometimes mark you, pulling away bits of flesh or even a heart, without a  suture to mark it closed so it will heal, nothing left but the fading whisper of guns and the descending of flags.
Some folks can't handle change, expectations that life will go a certain way, and by God, it had better and they don't really do well with that. I was in a CVS and witnessed a guy chew out the clerk as he bought his four pizzas,  3 boxes of cigarettes and half gallon of Tequila with an almost hysterical "by God you don't have any more of the breakfast sandwiches with sausage, and what the hell am I going to eat".

 My Dad has always been active in the community and the church, as well as his local Chapter of the Lions Club.  One thing he was particularly proud of was their newspaper recycling fund-raising program, which provided income for community and scholarship programs but not without a lot of hard, volunteer work. The shining marker of that program was a Newspaper Recycling Building built to further expand on that community project. The members constructed it themselves, husbands and fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers, laboring in cold and rain, hot and sun, often at the expense of their own sleep. In November 2000, newly constructed, vandals burned it to the ground,
There was nothing left, but a few support timbers, lined up in stark order like gravestones at a military service. The men, my father, simply stood there stunned, as water dripped from the remains, strips of clouds like bayonets against the sky. A lot of work went into it, all volunteer and many of them WWII Vets in their 70's. You would have expected my Dad to storm and rage against a senseless act of destruction. But he didn't, though I was not so naive that I didn't miss the simmering outrage within which lives a betrayal too intense and inert to ever be articulated.

On the flip side, I remember my Mom's funeral.  I was pretty young, not a child, but still wet behind the ears, but was trying to help Dad as much as I could.  He realized, before the service that he needed a haircut, his not having paid any attention to that sort of thing the last few months of her life.  I offered to help.  I got out the clippers, and turned them on  nd made my first path through his hair (though bald on top, he had some fine red hair on the sides).  Oh oh. Apparently you're supposed to put a guard on there to get it the right length.  I'd shaved him down to the scalp. 

Other then shaving his favorite football teams name on his head there was nothing to do but shave it all.  He went to Mom's service looking like Jean Luc Picard.  No one dared say anything.  But you know, Dad hugged, me, made some great jokes about it, and held his head up high as he said goodbye to his first great love.
It made it easier a few years later, when in support of a girl friend who was starting cancer treatment a couple of us shaved our heads in support.  Only, she ended up with just radiation, kept her hair, and we looked like a couple of lesbian biker chicks for the next few months.

But I was OK, because from Dad I learned that whatever bad things may happen to us, there is only one thing that allows them to permanently damage our core self, and that is continued belief in them. You may cry, you may make that sound that is simple agony, but it is not the sound of relinquishment or acceptance, if even to the ear, they are the same.

It's your choice. You can go through your days with intractable and unceasing conviction of the inherent instinctive duplicity of all men, including yourself.  Or you can give folks around you the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.  That doesn't mean you assume man is never evil, for indeed he can be, and you may find that out in that moment that's like the false dawn between dark and light, when only God's winged and four legged creatures know, and sound the alarm which you may not hear.  For those moments you are prepared.
But in your day to day activities, with friends, colleagues and neighbors, have patience and trust.  When  things don't go as planned or someone does something you'd rather they didn't, with the best of intentions, simply smile, help them fix it or ignore it and move on.  When someone betrays you, forgive (but never forget the bastard's name).

It's simply a matter of perspective.  When you have a fight, a failure or a Charlie Foxtrot on our hands, as you can can, any time human will, machinery or mother nature are involved, you can shake your fist or cry your tears until you drown in them. Or you can dry your eyes, pick up the pieces, and make something with what's left that is of value. You may even find that what you thought you wanted was not what you needed, finding a happiness you never expected by the loss of what you did.  For what some people think will make them happy, no challenge, no bends in the road, expected behaviors and outcomes, is for others, not routine, but an old, flat habituation for which no effort is made to move beyond it, until they are so used to that life, they fail to smell and taste it.
My day did not go as planned, my weekend did not go as planned, the chance to travel where the phone will be off, now gone.  I could say, simply, that I shoveled a boatload of snow and slept alone. And that would be true, but it is not, in that my time was what I made of it, not what was taken from it.

It was warm sheets going on smooth and taut with the remembered motion of hands.  It was pastry formed and rolled and layered with fresh butter and remembered motion.  It was those hands, compelling and guiding a dog up a ramp so he could lay upon that bed, which will be covered in dog hair, not invisible  rose petals. It was time to remember, to say thanks, as I looked down upon the creeping ridge of show and ice before my shovel, not with anger, but astonishment, for the divine snowy brightness, that for just this moment, forgave an imperfect landscape its transgressions

I sit here now, Partner headed on down while someone tends to the Range, perhaps a day or two where the phone won't ring.  Or it will.  But for now, the birds outside twitter with only happiness for the birdseed strewn out across the dry, clear porch. The snow has ended, the light growing bright, graduating from grey to rose to the sky's ultimate sapphire.  I wrap a warm blanket of gold about me, looking out onto mist off of frozen water, savoring the myriad waking sounds of life, listening for his approach.
 - Brigid

16 comments:

Mathew Paust said...

I had a notion, as I experienced the usual gamut of emotions reading one of your special essays, ranging from bursts of laughter to moistening eyes, that there just might not be anything you cannot do, Brigid, and do well. "Partner" is one lucky man indeed, and lucky are all of your friends, even those who know you only through your marvelous writing. We all are blessed to be within range of such a special person.

tom said...

Every day is a gift. Wish we were all smart enough to unwrap it and enjoy it before it's gone.
Tom

naturegirl said...

So much truth in there. So beautifully said.

I believe things happen for reasons we may not know or understand. There's a reason it goes the way it goes. As long as everyone is safe, the rest is what it is.

As for Valentines Day, it's sad it turned out the way it did. But everyday is Valentines Day, anyway. Or should be. You didn't miss one, you have a lifetime of them :)

Ed Bonderenka said...

Excellent post, but the pictures remind me of the summer days I stand in my driveway and hear the rumble, then thunder, of the four motored B-17 as it approaches over my house.
I could never move.

Old NFO said...

Well said, and that is ONE thing aviation teaches you is adaptability... And knowing when to land and weather the storm per se...

naturegirl said...

This is FOR YOU Brigid, didn't want you to miss this:

http://dfm.denverpost.com/article/for-her-100th-birthday-this-former-wwii-pilot-just-wanted-to-fly-again/c956944fb009899717c2b062fef1f20c

Katherine Grossman said...

You never disappoint.
Would you please quit your day job and just write full-time?

JaneofVirginia said...

So much truth in your post, my friend. As I read it my son passed by, and became excited that I was ready a post with "B-17s" and something else he called "a Liberator".
Sometimes we are delayed in seeing our loved ones, and it makes the get together afterward all the more sweet. Love to you and your partner.

JaneofVirginia said...

So much truth in your post, my friend. As I read it my son passed by, and became excited that I was ready a post with "B-17s" and something else he called "a Liberator".
Sometimes we are delayed in seeing our loved ones, and it makes the get together afterward all the more sweet. Love to you and your partner.

Jim Dunmyer said...

I thought of Garth Brooks' "Unanswered Prayers" when reading this. Here's one guy's version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6X3yAfoCPw

The flip side of adapting to how things really are is the bad things that happen if one is too stubborn to admit the change, and continue charging ahead in the original direction.

lotta joy said...

During a terribly trying time while on the fire department, the police gathered in my Chief's office and I was called in.

I was being placed under protective watch due to death threats. Everywhere I went, I was under police surveillance.

My Chief ADVISED me: "Never show you feel intimidated. Stay armed and alert. Act with confidence and assurance."

This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. During a very frightening time, I learned that how you act (even if you don't feel it at that moment) affects your emotions, attitude, and posture!

Brigid said...

Mathew - as always, your comments uplifted me. As a published author, your support means a lot to me. Thank you.

tom - indeed. Thanks for stopping.

naturegirl - He did arrive the next day and I cooked us a three course Italian dinner, no expensive restaurant for me when we can eat better, and cheaper here. But he did take me out for Thai for lunch today, which was great.

Ed - that sound really stays with you, I know.

Old NFO - it teaches you that, and also that there is a lot of food that would really taste good WARM.

Katherine - thank you so much, but if I had to do it to put bread on the table, I'd likely just sit and stare at the computer. It comes and goes throughout a week, but there are days it's just "look a recipe" or "Look, a dog!". And I love the challenge of the work that I do (and the generous paycheck for it) But thank you.

Jane of Virginia - there's very few of them flying, and they still thrill me to this day to see and hear them.

Jim D. - thank you for the link. I hope your wife is doing as well as she can be. Drop me a line if we can ever help out in any way at your homestead.

lotta joy - glad you came through that, and that is so true. A few years back, I had a case that ended up with someone in jail that thought he'd not end up there. My testimony was key. As we left the courthouse, he muttered to me that he was going to pay me a visit on his release to (rape) me." In front of the squirrel attorney (not bright). I was also equally not bright in that I responded. "Fine, bring someone with a (insert slang for male body part here)". He got some extra time for the threat, but when he got out, I did have some "company" watching my house for a bit.

Roscoe said...

A girl I dated in college gave birth to a child less than a year after we broke up, and the time table was so tight that many people, including Mrs. Roscoe, wonder to this day if I was the other parent of the child.

(It doesn't help that the child looks like me and went into technology after graduating college, but I digress.)

Every now and then I will get the question from my spouse. "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"How sure."

"Very. A couple of dates. Never touched her. My self-preservation instinct is very good."

"Why does he look like you?"

"Half the Engineering College looked like me in the 80s."

And the debate continues ...

lotta joy said...

I think you reacted properly to his attempt at intimidation.

Murphy's Law said...

A wonderful post, even without the plane porn. Wishing you a replacement weekend soon.

Auntie J said...

I was very small when my dad got a new job about four hours away from where we lived. During the time that my mom was finishing out the school year where she taught and Dad was commuting, she got pregnant, and of course had to change OBs with the move. Mom knew when she'd conceived, as it could have only been one weekend, and knew she was due around the end of December. The new OB disagreed, and pegged her due date as the end of January. My mother laughed at him, and insisted that she knew when she'd gotten pregnant. He agreed to back off his estimate to January 15th, but no earlier. He was certain my mom would still be pregnant until the end of January.

My sister was born four days after Christmas, full-term.