Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Acid Test of Flight

"All our ideas, all our calculations, all our hopes lie there before me, waiting to undergo the acid test of flight...Today, reality will check the claims of formula and theory on a scale which hope can't stretch a single hair" writes Charles Lindberg about his preparations to make the first transatlantic flight in The Spirit of St. Louis.

This is not my normal reading fare, but a recently widowed man recommended it to me, so I went to the library and checked it out the next day.  I'm only a third of the way through, but I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying it and how Mr. Lindberg is able to nail descriptions of things that are difficult to describe.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised since doing difficult things was kind of his specialty.

The acid test of flight...

As a hospice bereavement coordinator, I work with the bereaved.  Those who are grieving.  Those who are learning how to live with grief.  And none of them feel like they know how.  And yet, they do it, through the seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years. 

Sometimes there are preparations that last years and other times not even a single day.  They anticipate, imagine, plan, discuss, and guess about how things will come to an end and what it will be like, all the while saying "I don't know how to do this" while they are in fact, doing it.

The acid test of flight...

After the recent death of a patient I had the privilege of getting close to, I was struck by the five seconds it took to write her name and the word "funeral" after it in my calendar.  How can that be?!  We die in less time than it takes for someone to pencil our funeral in on their calendar.

It probably seems morbid to you, but this prompts me to imagine people writing "Heidi's funeral" in their calendar, followed by a time for the service.  I wonder who would come and whose attendance would surprise me, and pray that people aren't whispering sadly to themselves, if only.

As I read somewhere, I believe that we die in a moment and all the rest is living.

The acid test of flight...

Beyond thoughts, preparations, and intentions to actual flying.  Not thinking about flying, but f.l.y.i.n.g.  Living, for those of us who have never had a flying lesson.

I love what Charles Lindberg writes about preferring steadiness to accuracy in a compass, if forced to choose.  It's easy to subtract or add a few degrees to one's magnetic course.  

And when the skeptics press into the cracks of his own doubt, he replies, "I can't very well miss the entire European coast."

I'm not sure I can explain it, but this sentence that has no obvious relevance to my own life, makes my soul laugh in relief.  Yeah, I can't very well miss the entire European coast. 

My hat is off to Mr. Lindberg for his always hopeful and detailed account of his endeavor to make the first transatlantic flight and to you, my fellow flyers, who are acing the acid test of flight, in spite of not knowing how.


1 comment:

  1. Brings to mind the old saying about the journey being as significant as the destination. Rudy