Prologue – 8 October:
I’ve been at a trade show all week on the exhibit floor, and haven’t had much time to do anything else. But I DID complete the second written exam. Just like the other one: take home, open book. I forgot all about it and rushed home from work and knocked it out in about an hour or so.
Out of 25 questions, I missed 3 for a grand total of 88%. All of the errors were “RTFP” errors, in that I would have gotten the right answer had a read the effin’ problem correctly.
That’s what I get for rushing through it.
I think I may have a clue.
No, not the kind of clue that makes navigating the big mine field of life a breeze, but a teeny-tiny, little clue. It’s about why I still feel a little apprehensive about hopping in the plane and getting back up in the air.
To be fair to myself, and I am often not, I have been busy. I’ve had some events that were on the calendar way before I started training, and this week, I spent four days at a hyuuuuuge conference which took a lot of extra time and energy. So it’s fair to say that it’s OK that I haven’t flown in a couple of weeks.
Today was a “work at home” day, which because of the extra hours I put in these last couple of weeks, translates to a “be available” day. I was. Available, that is. I spent part of the morning up in town having my photo taken for a security badge. (The commute took longer than getting the badge.) So I’ve definitely done my part for God and country and I feel no guilt with having spent about an hour or so out at the airport this afternoon.
Last night was ground school class 10. We were learning how to compute weight and balance for our particular aircraft. Most of it was pretty straightforward, but at one point, there was a whole gaggle of numbers on the white board (remember when they were “black boards?” That’s not racist, is it? Just checkin’.) representing various qualities required in the computation.
I was a math major for awhile. Something like four years. Numbers don’t intimidate me. Much. I flunked out over abstract stuff — Abstract Algebra to be precise. Anyway, I was completely following the discussion and the notations on the blackboard, but for the life of me, I couldn’t see it. All I saw were trees, not the forest. I fully grokked the idea of interpolation and extrapolation and approximations and mathematical significance which my classmate Jim and I discussed sotto voce during the lecture. But I’ll be damned if I could divine the MEANING of the numbers and SEE their interrelation. The big picture escaped me completely.
It got me to thinking, what IS it that bugs me? Why is it that understanding but not Understanding (with a capital “U”, if you know what I mean) bugs the shit out of me. Why is it so frustrating? Why is it so disconcerting? Why does it frighten me?
Armed with this observation from class last night and its associated question, I wondered why it felt so similar to the frustration I’ve been having with the flight lessons. I can’t seem to see the forest for the trees there, either. Then it hit me:
You’re a STUDENT, you idiot — you’re not SUPPOSED to see the forest just yet!
Seems as though I put the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse. I damned the torpedoes. I failed to remember the Alamo. But mostly, I was being far too hard on myself for not understanding that I wasn’t understanding what I shouldn’t have been understanding in the first place.
It’s ok. I know what I meant, and really that’s what’s important.
Back to today. I spent some time out at the airport purchasing yet another damn reference manual and spending yet another damn $45.00. So I took an hour or so just watching planes take off and land and listening to the communications among the aircraft and the tower, just one source of angst among many. And I just watched and listened. Watched and listened. I allowed the bigger picture of take off, landing and tower comms just wash over me. No effort. No puzzling and puzzling until my puzzler was sore. Then I thought of something I hadn’t before:
Relax. Let my brain do it’s job. It’ll inform me just as soon as it has all the puzzle pieces necessary for me to identify the picture. Just like a jigsaw puzzle, the picture takes shape long before the puzzle’s complete. But it takes more than just a few pieces.
And I’ll find all I need. One at a time. The instructors have them all and want ME to have them as well.
I just need to be patient and allow myself to relish in the joy of learning.
I’ve always believed that the epitome of human experience is not wealth, fame, sex or power. For all their obvious charm, these things are genuinely fleeting. I believe the singularly most amazing experience is that flash when the light finally dawns. That very moment when understanding actually occurs. When you answer your very own clue phone. There’s absolutely no feeling quite like having all of those little neurons lining up to produce understanding. And none better. It can’t be forced, but it WILL happen all in due course.
I can’t deny myself that feeling by putting up artificial obstacles. I absolutely must place myself in the proper situation to allow it to happen just as it should happen.
I just need to get the hell out of my way.