Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why this, why now?

I am of the opinion that this "flying thing" was introduced to my life for a reason. I've never before had something become so emotionally connected with my psyche as flying. Something that gives me so much joy and so much frustration at the same time. Perhaps its just a midlife crisis, but whatever the cause, there it is.

I went from terrified of being in a small plane with anyone but a professional pilot at the controls (and by professional pilot I don't mean private pilot, I mean career pilot), to being driven almost to the point of obsession to fly myself. The first time I flew in a plane with Jeff at the controls and me in the co-pilot seat I refused to touch the radio or the heat vent, I was scared to death. I actually made sure to ride in the back as often as possible so I wouldn't have to worry about it. Now you can't keep me away. My CFI said this is the biggest turn around he's ever seen. He also pointed out he's waiting to see if the pendulum swings back. To be honest, so am I. But its been on this end of the spectrum for a long time now and the more I do the more I want to do... not less.

Ok, so why does the Universe introduce me to something that is expensive, risky, hard, exciting, joyful, mentally and physically challenging that I can do pretty good, but not perfect, not yet, right now? Something that I want to do so bad that I'm willing to bang my head on this wall over and over and over again, fly the pattern for almost 20 hours trying to "get it right", to finally figure out I'm not going to get it right and then 8 hours to get comfortable with my own capabilities before letting the CFI out of the cockpit. My friends say its just because when I set my mind to something I do it. True, but it has never taken so much effort before. I'm convinced that I'm creating a lot of unnecessary effort in the process.

I am convinced if there is one thing that will keep me from getting my pilots license, or IFR Rating or CPL for that matter. It will be the great difficulty I have dealing with not being perfect, not being able to perform or make whatever I do operate to my standards. I have such high standards for myself, that I'm not even conscious of most of the time, that I just cannot achieve them in this flying environment in the way I am subconsciously demanding I must do. No one can.

If I can't get over the fact that I'm not perfect that I won't normally meet my own high standards, especially right now as I'm learning these new skills. If I can't just FISH and fly the airplane.... if I can't just say, its OK and OK is good enough. I will fail. I'll quit.

Just like I've done in so many jobs I've excelled at, I get frustrated when I can't make things work to my standards and eventually I get to the point where I quit and try to find somewhere else that I think, for some reason I can meet those standards, which I can't. I'm doing the same cycle at work right now... everyone says I'm doing a wonderful job, but I feel like I just can't meet my standards and I want to quit. I'm thinking that it would be a bad move to quit this particular job with this particular boss because he does see I do very well and he understands and points out the way I am about my standards. I just need to give myself a break he says... sounds just like every other good boss I've had. Sounds just like what my CFI has told me.

But what do I do to myself? the same thing my parents did to me. A B in an honors class isn't good enough, even though its a 4.0. A IQ test result one point short of genius, not good enough. "I'm sure you could do better if you took it again." is the response, not "Hey, that's great, you're pretty smart!"

When you grow up thinking nothing you do will ever be good enough, this is what you get. A frustrated, insecure overachiever who ignores all of the good feedback and finds ways to punish herself for not meeting impossible standards that no one else needs on difficult tasks that most people wouldn't even attempt, much less excel at like I can. I've faced this particular challenge over and over and failed in all but one case. The one case was running. In running I finally figured out it is OK to not be the fastest as long as I'm having fun, and in that I am happy. So I know it is possible... somehow.

And that's why I think this "flying thing" is here and now. Flying is the one activity / experience I have found in life that entrances and makes joyful the dreamer and the scientist and the adventurer and poet in me. It has me totally in its thrall and its not letting go. Midlife crisis maybe. But if I can conquer.. no conquer is the wrong word, one does not conquer ones self... if I can do that subtle dance of recognizing when I'm going off course and beating myself up and fixing it quick, over and over and over and over again. I'll be on course more and more often and I can almost feel just how happy I would be.

If I can do that in flight, and I can do that in running, and I can do that in work. I can stop chasing my tail and start enjoying the good job I have with the great boss and great pay and go home at night happy to be in a home with the people I love and spending weekends and nights and sometimes workdays doing the things I love to do. I could be content. Not that I will ever stop pushing for more challenges and more adventure, but content that I am and have done a good job in almost all things I care about.

Wouldn't that be nice? I think the process of learning to fly will force the issue. One way or another. I'll either learn how to give myself a break and just fly the plane, or I'll quit. I think, I hope, the pull flying has on me will be enough to overwhelm the impossible standards and I'll do this just like I do running. And I hope this experience will bleed into my career and the other things I care about.

I believe I'm being given an opportunity in a very strong way to make a change in my life. And that's why flying and why now. I think its time and I think I deserve it. It really would be nice.

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