Two quick thoughts that make me smile:
Firstly, if you stop reading political columnists/pundits (as I recently have), flipping through and, subsequently past, even so-called news headlines is a breeze—as apparently there’s hardly any actual newsworthy events to report. And no news is good news.
Secondly, as a pilot I have to take flight physicals. These used to be a breeze mentally because I was a twenty year old in excellent shape. Now, double that age, the last few (still passing of course) have been mentally stressful because I’m not a twenty year old in excellent shape. To alleviate this, I’ve started a fitness routine to handle and control that stress. The motivational point is this: I am probably half way through this life and have never had to run for exercise, beyond a few tests for school and the Air Force. Never. Are you going to tell me that after 40 I will start running? After 41? How about after 50? Think I’m going to develop a habit of running after 50? No sir. Take that to its conclusion and that means that I will have made it through life on planet earth without running. That’s something to marvel at.
First up was the oddity that as I looked to see if there was anything to note about the passengers or vehicle passing me, I was surprised to be the recipient of a smile and thumbs up.
For an unknown reason, anytime I suspect that an occupant of another car is communicating to me, my heart skips a beat. I must be on fire, I think.
But, no. That’s not what was happening here. This was some sort of encouragement. But for what?
Was this Iowan so sheltered that my Colorado plates being in Iowa were simply exciting? As in, “Good for you! You got out!!”??
No. That just didn’t make sense. Plenty of people pass through this state.
Hmm. Not on fire. (Confirmed by the fact that another car has passed me–sans attempt to warn me of fire.) Not my foreignness. What could he have seen?
A- was in the backseat reading.
No tablet. No phone. No movie. No video game. Just a boy and a book. Yup. That’s it.
A smile and thumbs up from a stranger passing me on the highway. Why? Because I’m raising a boy right.
Secondly, I saw a bald eagle. It was just lazily riding the waves of the wind. At first I couldn’t be sure that it really was a bald eagle. But as I returned my eyes to the road, I saw a new scene. A blanket of red, white, and blue–47, 48, 49, and, yes, 50 bright stars to boot–warmed the wintry landscape. And I could tell that, even when I wasn’t looking, men and women were constantly sewing and mending this mantle by dim, fading candlelight in one great period of darkness.
Then I was sure of it. It was a bald eagle if ever there was one.
So just how does a pilot, a combat veteran, hero extraordinaire to boot, (and a good smile) motivate himself in these troubled times of doom and gloom? I’ll tell ya.
Firstly, I have an unshakable hope and belief that “good will overcome”. While I must have received this hope from some influential adults as a child, I cannot pin down exactly when or where or who those noble folks were. I’d love to share that I could easily note that they were all Christians, but as you know, the situation is always complicated when it comes to these things. (And, truth be told, for whatever reason, some of the very people I’m trying to cheer up with this post are Christians who see the end of America and subsequently the end of the whole shebang looming on the horizon.) Either way, I’m happy the LORD put these torch-bearers in my life.
Secondly, I motivate myself by doing my best to recognize the problem accurately. This motivates me because once we identify the problem, solutions appear out of nowhere.
There is a problem, make no mistake. But you all are misidentifying it and, more than that, you’re letting others misidentify it for you. You should try to recognize the problem for your own self. It’s quite a ride. But don’t take my word for it. Read on.
The problem is not Trump. The problem is not the Democrats. The problem is not the Squad. The problem is not Islam. The problem is not the climate.
The problem is that we Americans don’t know what to do with our power. In other words, we’re leaderless. We have been for a long time. We’re just going through the motions, hoping no one will bother us.
Additionally, we can still recall what it took to get the power. We can still remember not having the power.
Put another way, I’m talking about the difference between fighting for the top of the mountain, and living atop the mountain.
To be clear, we did marvelous fighting–and for all the right reasons. But now we’re in some sort of bizarre mental depression. I see future historians describing the Great Depression as having two distinct time periods. The first was financial. The second, the longer one, was of the collective mind. That’s where I want to help you. I want to swoop in and fly you out of the depression.
This particular Sunday it occurred to me that I feel (whether accurately or inaccurately) that I fear another nation/tribe/group developing weapons, strategies etc. that could be used to defeat us. IE, bigger bombs, better economies and economic theories, better religions etc. But when I take a Sunday morning to survey the passing scene, I find this to not be indicated anywhere. Instead, I keep seeing 9/11.
I see men, from meaningfully another world, (to say “another planet” would only be slightly misleading, so “another world” must suffice) using our planes against us. I see men using our planes against us. I see “men” using “our” against “us”.
So solution-wise, we’ve hit pay-dirt. Can you feel it? We now know a great deal. We know that a bigger bomb doesn’t defeat or solve “our”. Neither does better engineering defeat “our”. A robust economy doesn’t defeat “our”. A hopeful outlook doesn’t defeat “our”. Even wishful thinking doesn’t defeat “our”.
Good. We’re making progress. We know now that there is no reason to lose hope, that there is every reason to keep excelling–in everything.
Okay. “Our.” What else do we have?
So these aliens snuck one in on us. Minor loss. One battle, not the war. But the way they did it reveals the war. The war is over the Way. It’s not over land. It’s not over oil. It’s not over past sins. It’s not over present sins.
Our enemies are people whose planes we could never use to fly into their buildings–not because of their more diligent TSA equivalents, but because they haven’t invented any planes. Our enemies are people whose books we can’t read–not because they haven’t been translated, but because they haven’t been written. Our enemies are people whose greatest weapon is their neighbor’s 72 year old repeating rifle.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Horrible question. A trap set by the great Satan himself. That question is in no way our problem.
Ok. I’ll grant you it’s interesting to say. So I’ll appease us all and utter it again.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Why haven’t they invented or written?
I don’t know. I don’t care. You shouldn’t either.
But, returning to reality, I do know that this recognition that they use “our” against “us” motivates me like little else on this day.
Knowing this means that I know that they’re coming. Knowing this means that I know they’re on their way. It means they’re behind me. Knowing this means that I know they wouldn’t know which way to go without me. It means I can, in fact, tell “us” from “them” while looking out my car’s windows on my way to work, all the way to while I watch the international scene unfold on my phone. And it means that I can talk about who they are without the use of political designations or family associations–even in my children’s government mandated safe spaces!
To the enemy I say, “Here you go. I offer this post which contains everything you need to know about my intentions and strategy to defeat you. It’s free for the taking. (On circuit boards powered by lightning storing batteries, neither of which were invented by you!) Take it. As a gift. Because that’s all you seem to be able to do. Take or receive. Never create. Never give.”
To us, I say, “Back to clearing the path. People need to know which way to go.”
This was it. His last day on the job. He’d waited, mostly patiently, for years to be able to quit as he pleased, and now he’d done it twice in one year. How does it feel? Remember Owen Wilson’s description of the ratio between excitement and scared in Armageddon? Nothing like that.
His life had been so planned up until this year that he still couldn’t believe how relieved this all felt. He just wanted to drink it up.
The great joy of the journey. What was going to happen next? He had some inklings, but no real vision. Honestly, while he had narrowed down his professional joys, he knew just one thing above all. He knew he was tired of trying to convince people of his value with his voice. Experience as his mentor, he was learning that the great thing about self-respect and dignity is that they are heavy enough to squash self-doubt.
How would it all turn out? That is what he longed to know. Emerson wrote about what it must have been like three days before Columbus and his crew discovered America. That day embodied the peak of excitement. That day exemplified the joy of living. Intuition caused him to identify with the sentiment as he read those words years ago. Now, experience was teaching him the full truth of it.