Author: Ann Schiebert
Life is like an airplane ride. You board the plane, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you are REALLY going to your destination, or if there will be a detour or unexpected lay over, or maybe, in the end, the plane won’t take off at all. But, despite of all the uncertainties, you board and are directed to your seat. You check out your flight, “family”…. those who are seated in front, in back and beside you. Rarely do you get to move away from those fellow passengers. You are stuck. And sometimes you are stuck in the middle with no escape route except maybe a clumsy one, wherein you have to step over others in order to reach the aisle.
So there you are, strapped into your uncomfortable seat, by a belt that might cut off your circulation from the waist down. You don’t know what meals will be served and when. You don’t know what movies they will show, or what music you can hear over your headphones. Who are the pilots? What experience do they have? To a large extent, everything that happens to you during your trip, is out of your control. Control of your 393,000 pound aircraft is in the hands of a stranger…a stranger in whose hands we put our lives.
Some of us sit back and enjoy the flight. We zone out by watching a movie, or listening to the prerecorded music on headphones. Some of us get absorbed in a good book. Some experience anxiety and white knuckle their trip. Some take a sleeping medication and try to avoid the flight experience altogether. Some just meditate. We bring all our coping skills on board with us.
We expect and hope for a smooth flight. We want our flight to be just the way we want it: Smooth, easy, comfortable, no stress, no mess, no hard decisions for us to make, no challenges. But we are powerless over air pockets in the sky. When air turbulence happens, we ride out the bumps, and hope it is over soon. It is very humbling to discover that we are powerless over most of what happens on a flight.
Have you ever noticed that this is much like life? On our journey we get placed in an unknown family (parents and relatives). We can’t move because we have our seat belts on (that’s our family whether we like it or not). We hope our pilots (parents) will be wise about their flight path. So often they have their focus on the trip, while we have our attention on music or videos. We can’t see the risks ahead because we don’t have the knowledge about flying the aircraft (we don’t have the life view that we trust our parents to have). We hope our needs will be met by our caretakers. We hope life will render us a smooth journey; we take it for granted that it will be.
But, in life, things go wrong. Sometimes, when we experience air turbulence, it feels like it will last forever. We can’t find a way out. We wish we could escape, but there is no where to go. Sometimes we try to distract ourselves; some chose mind altering substances, while others chose cyberspace diversions or prayer and meditation to get them through. But air turbulence goes on, until it stops. And this is the important thing to remember: AIR TURBULENCE STOPS – IT DOES NOT GO ON FOREVER! Air turbulence passes.
While we do not have control of our fates, we do have control of how we get through the bumps of life. We have control over how we navigate through those scary, or sad, or shocking times that feel like they will never end. We can believe that the awful thing that is happening right now will continue on and on. Or we can pay attention to our past experiences and actually realize that no feeling, no fear, no emotional wound, no financial problem, lasts forever. It may be terrible for a time, and we can feel like our serenity will never return, but when we weather through our challenge, it eventually lands us safely at our destination and we realize that life goes on much as it did before with a belief that the day will bring the expected with it.
There is an ebb and flow to life. How we greet it and get through those difficult times is up to us. We do not have to do this alone. There are plenty of passengers with us on our flight. If we have joined with them to create intimate relationships, they are on the plane with us. They are with us through turbulence, celebration, the unexpected, grief, and faith that our challenges will not last forever.
When you encounter air turbulence on your flight path, blast through it with the belief that before you know it, things will get better. Because they will.