I quit piloting on my own 20 years ago when I got cancer.
Cancer has a way of reshuffling your priorities, kind of like any kind of crisis. Kind of like the times we’re in now.
This is a story of privilege, because my husband and I own a small plane. It’s a 1960 Cessna 182 that used to belong to my husband’s dad—almost old enough to qualify as a classic. And clearly old enough to require a new engine every couple of decades. This was the year.
Isn’t this the year to rebuild everything? Inside and out, whether you’re a pilot or not?
These days, there’s a lot of talk about resilience. People are really tired and want a dose of normal. We want to return to normal, knowing that’s probably impossible. We aren’t even sure what “normal” is. And after all, the old normal somehow landed us here.
“Resiliency” literally means a return to one’s former state. And as much as we may want to return to, let’s say, our former state of enthusiasm or our former sense of humor or our former sense of hopefulness about the world…maybe that is not what we actually long for.
I long for a new kind of enthusiasm, a fresh sense of humor, and some redefined sense of hopefulness about the world. I long not only to feel resilient; I long for resilience and maybe even transformation.
Like our old airplane, I’ve lived a lot of life at 77. And like the airplane, maybe I need a new engine.
We could have put in one with the same power as the old one, but decided to upgrade. And since the navigation system is outmoded, we’re redoing that too. It’s expensive (I know, we’re privileged), but we’ll be safer. The plane’s body is fine; its interior life needs redesigning.
How would you redesign your inner life? There’s a question worth a lifetime of contemplation.
Well, let’s think of an engine. It’s a source of power. What is yours? Do you feel powerful when you’re feeling sexy? When you have money? When you have influence? Uh oh. That’s the old operating system. Might have been manufactured by Patriarchs Unlimited.
Think again. When have you felt the kind of power that creates a feeling that all is well? Not always happy, but peaceful and resourced. Trusting in life. Accepting of yourself, dings and all. Accepting of others and the world, dings and all. I think that’s called love.
In his book Power vs. Force, David Hawkins presents a chart with scores rating different states of consciousness for their power. Love is 500 and despair is 50. He postulates that one individual emanating love counterbalances 400,000 individuals below 200.
The power of the heart has been well documented, but ya gotta feel it to be convinced. You know that feeling when your heart is so full it feels like you’re flying? That’s why Sufis chose the heart with wings as their symbol.
On our flight from Tucson to Montrose, Colorado, where the plane’s new engine would be installed, I was armed with my camera, looking down at the gorgeous array of shapes, patterns, and colors on the surface “skin” of the earth while my husband piloted. I entered a state of ecstasy. I had forgotten what happens inside me when beauty takes over. It’s as though my eyes are caressing the earth, loving her contours. At moments like this, my heart is full of a feeling of oneness with creation.
This is what I believe power is. Anyone who feels this would not want to harm the earth. Anyone who feels this about another human would not want to harm humans. Anyone who feels this about animals would not want to harm animals. So the power of this kind of heart space leads to political, social, and personal action. It’s not just airy fairy.
Is this the time to make an investment in your new engine? Your inner life will determine how well you survive this pandemic, no matter what happens to your body. Your inner life will determine how well you survive economic uncertainty, personal crisis, political despair, illness, and certainly depression or suicidal thoughts.
And let’s say David Hawkins is only half right. In that case, when you source your power from love, you’ll only counteract the despair, anger, hate, anxiety, or blame of a mere 200,000 people. Something worth considering.