I got my private pilot’s license at 56.
It was a great accomplishment—really one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wanted to quit a million times. I scared myself more than once. All the fears and self-doubts I thought I’d healed in therapy came popping back up like ground squirrels.
So the day I passed my check ride and oral test was almost a shock—of the best kind.
My flight instructor, Clio, was my aviation therapist. She was the voice of reason and confidence that got me through it. I rented her little 152, Yellow Bird, and flew around by myself after I got my license. I was still shaky enough to be afraid to take anyone with me, but I figured I’d grow in confidence. That was in 1999.
In 2000, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The third generation, I was at risk of dying as my mother and grandmother had. So, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy and chemo. (And in spite of a recurrence in 2004, I’m still here!)
Cancer has a way of changing one’s priorities. When Clio decided to move to New Mexico, I realized that in order to fly by myself, I’d have to get checked out in our 182—a horse a bit too big for me. I knew I’d have to make a big commitment to practicing a lot in order to be safe. All of that looked different now.
I decided to give up flying by myself. I was lucky, since my husband Jon could be pilot-in-command. I could still take the controls from the right seat and concentrate on taking my aerial photographs. Sometimes a big goal just doesn’t feel doable anymore. Letting go is hard.
This brings us to the last of my Flying Lessons Revisited, #7: Give Way to the Winds.
When have you given up something—a goal, an idea, a position, a habit? If you’re a yogini, are you good at savasana? It’s the Corpse pose, the lying down and letting go of all the trying. Some say it’s the hardest pose.
If you’re on a spiritual path, you’ll understand why this lesson is connected to the seventh chakra at the crown. If the Source is in charge for you, then you know how over and over again, we are challenged to give up our own way and trust the prevailing winds. After all, winds are too strong to fight. And remember, the Hebrew word for wind is “ruah,” which also means Spirit.
I’m posting this right before Halloween, a time when the veils are thin. What do you need to let go of? What would lighten your load? Can you hand it over and ask for help from the spirit realm?
Sometimes the letting go can be life-saving. For those of you old enough to remember John Kennedy Jr.’s death, you know that there were lots of reasons he should not have insisted on flying to a family wedding at dusk with a cast on his leg. Too many factors against him. He died of one of the pilot’s worst tendencies: get-there-itis.
I don’t know how you’re feeling, but the multitude of crises is getting me down. Election tensions are high, with no promise of a quick resolution. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s looking like with COVID numbers rising, having a family get-together may not be wise. Will I be able to give way to the winds?
What else am I trying to control that really is not in my control? In what ways do I have get-there-itis?
How can I take advantage of the thin veils to honor and listen to my ancestors? To honor and listen to spiritual guidance? To the wise advice always found deep in my heart, behind the mind?
In what ways does giving way to the winds actually help me to soar? The winds just might carry me in ways better than I could have imagined.
I wish for you some holy letting go during Halloween and All Saints Day. Look to the invisible beings surrounding and supporting you. Make them an offering. Better, even, than trick or treating. You might just come back from your spirit journeys with a bag of sweets.