The whole incident took maybe 10 minutes—yet is etched in my mind as hours. Time was suspended.
I wasn’t thinking about my grocery list, or getting my car repaired. I want thinking about the money in the bank. I briefly thought about would happen if I didn’t get this right—and very quickly dropped that thought for one singular focus: fly the airplane. My priority was crystal clear.
Every bit of training and skill helped me land the plane that day. It was part skill ingrained by training over and over again, and part luck that I am here to tell the tale.
The maintenance crew later discovered that a cotter key had worked loose from the throttle control linkage bolt, and the bolt worked itself out, leaving me with only partial power and no power control at all. I had too much power to land, but not enough to climb.
Recent emergency flight training (and possibly a few angels) saved the day. In the final analysis, I was able to land because I had learned how to avoid stalling the airplane and also because I had enough altitude at the time the bolt fell out. As my grandfather used to say, “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
And as my flight coach used to say: “Above all else: fly the airplane.”
During a crisis, the non-essential melts away. We feel fully alive to level that is not present in our everyday life–we are fully present to what is happening, we save lives, we help those in need, we are for that brief instant clear and on-purpose. Crisis brings focus and clarity unlike any other that we experience day to day. Facing death or loss, we suddenly know what’s important. The non-essential falls away.
When we are in the midst of crisis, we feel fully alive because our attention is fully in the moment. We act without having to think about it too much. In crisis, the need to act circumvents all the beliefs and thoughts that might stop us. We choose life.
What if there is a way to choose life without all the drama? The clue lies in getting our of our own way… to focus on the PROCESS of life and let the outcomes take care of themselves.