The moment I decided I was ready to learn how to fly an airplane, I approached my husband, Martin. He’s one of those people who could live and breathe all things aviation. From the moment we met, it was clear that he wanted nothing more than to share that passion with me.
“Okay, I’ll learn how to fly,” I said. “But I just want you to know: I don’t do landings.”
Landing an airplane involves a detailed process of calculating exactly where you are and where your plane is taking you. The immense number of variables—your elevation, rate of descent, angle of your wings, wind patterns, radio tower instructions, etc.—influence exactly where you’ll touch the ground and the level of grace. Without your detailed focus, a plane won’t be able to perform its magic.
Now if you ask me, flying a plane sounded much more enjoyable without all that stress. I figured I’d much more enjoy the excitement of my plane leaving the earth and rising around my beloved blue Montana sky if I didn’t have the hassle of getting back down.
“You’ll just do all of our landings,” I told Martin with a shrug.
“Is that what you’ll tell the examiner, too? He can just land for you?”
I know you’re probably laughing at the absurdity of my predicament. I admit it sounds a bit foolish. The thing is, I wanted to avoid landings to protect myself—and I don’t just mean physically. I wanted to skip and the part of flying that’s hard and painful. The easier path just sounded, well, easier.
We all try to ignore part of our story because it’s hard and it hurts. It’s no fun to get our butts kicked, screw up, or disappoint anyone—especially ourselves. Do we really want to deliberately set ourselves up for all that junk?
Life feels much easier when we walk away and live outside of any positive benefits that might come with the entire experience. We disengage to protect ourselves, thinking the path of least resistance makes sense.
The irony is that the more we attempt to separate ourselves from things that feel hard, the more we stop writing our own stories. Joseph Campbell was a brilliant writer who said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
The reason I love journaling so much is that it makes me feel more joy and gratitude. When we write journals, we get to live experiences twice—once in the world, and once on paper. Recording our stories helps us see our experiences with more depth. We get to review, reflect, and learn from our stories, which makes us understand more about ourselves and the world. Steve Jobs believed it was important to connect the dots between our experiences. To him, “Creativity is just connecting things.” One moment links to another to another, and they shape who we are.
But some stories involve tears. We live in a world where showing our vulnerability can be looked down on as a weakness. After all, we have so much to be grateful for with only our first world problems! The pressure makes us feel like our hardships aren’t worthy of being acknowledged. So what do we do? We bury them. We stop stretching to live full lives, subconsciously afraid of the unknown pain that might come.
Over the years, I’m learning how journaling isn’t just about the joy and gratitude. It’s also about acknowledging challenging things—both big and small—that scare us and make us want to go back to bed and hide under the blankets. A journal is a tool that connects your head and heart by use of your hands. It’s a place to engage in your feelings. For now, I’m going to keep sharing happy journal entries and inspiration on Instagram. But I’m also thinking a lot more about the hard stories and how we can open our hearts to them.
- You can begin to crack open the deeper stories in your heart with the She introspective journal.
- I’ve cleverly disguised Time Capsule: A seriously awesome kid’s journal to help kids document the great and daring bits of life, along with some of what they are trying to navigate, too.
- And finally, the mother son journal and mother daughter journal are all about establishing dialogue about the good, bad, and beautiful.
Eventually, I faced my fear of landing—it wasn’t easy. Martin and I worked together the entire summer. I can’t tell you how many times he said, “Let’s do it again” and “Go around.” Occasionally, I heard the most deflating words of all: “I’ve got the controls.” No discussion, no chance for correction—I had to surrender the plane instantly as he rescued our descent. There were days when I wanted to cry, days when I did, and plenty of times when I was sure I should just throw the towel in and kick the plane’s wheel as hard as I could. It was awful.
As we kept practicing our flight patterns, it wasn’t just my landings that were improving. I got better at all the aspects of flying. One morning, Martin jumped out of the parked airplane just before I was about to make a radio call that we were taxiing to the runway.
I’ll spare you the details, though I think you can derive the conclusion: I survived my first solo flight! As it turns out, I can do landings. We all can.
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The photo in this post was taken mere seconds before I did my first solo landing I documented my entire flight journey in diary form.