Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Sometimes, just when we think we know what's going on, we get a wake up call. Occasionally it's a gentle nudge, sometimes it's a figurative swift kick in the derriere.

Other days it's a simple awakening we never expected. Wednesday was one of those days.

I headed outside in shorts and a t-shirt for a brief jog before attending to other concerns. It was still a little cool out, 40 degrees, but I decided I'd be ok.

Stepping outside, a brisk wind reminded me that this was still Minnesota, and it was still technically winter. It also heralded life and the promise of a new day. With one step I began my short journey. Despite the wind, I felt my skin warming, a product of the bright shining sun and my own body's efforts. With each subsequent step I felt more and more alive, more and more in control of my own destiny and joy in life. As I ran, I let go of the stress and self-hatred of my daily life . . . I once again loved my life and my body for what they are and what they could be. I was moving and going somewhere entirely on my own, of my own doing, with no one else's intervention.

I do this for myself. It is my time to reconnect with myself. It's not quite cruising in the Cub at water-tower-reading height, but it is free.

This self-time is my pondering time, when things clarify themselves and I often redefine things in my life.

I gazed up at the perfect blue sky. I belong to the sky, I said to myself.

I thought myself quite eloquent for a few moments. Then, it dawned upon me the bare truth of that statement. My soul is not owned by this dreary earth--it was born to soar.

One foot forward. I considered my involvement in aviation, reviewing it frame-by-frame. Next foot forward. I remembered all of my wonderful aviation friends and secondary family. Other foot forward. I wondered where I would be without my involvement in aviation.


Where would I be? I didn't want to think about it.

I once read a book in which the main character, a pilot, stated he never wanted aviation to define who he was. I'm definitely on the other side of the fence. Yes, I do other things that help make me who I am, but I also know that I wouldn't be who I am and who I want to be without flying.

Ok. Call me a hopeless romantic. It's true.

It was an eye-opening "aha!" moment . . . I have so much to be grateful for, both in terms of successes I'm proud of and failures that I learned from. Aviation has taught me perseverance . . . goal-setting . . . passion . . . and true, devastating heartbreak. But no matter what, I would not be where I am, or who I am, without some crazy airport individuals and that adorable little Cub.

It was one of those moments where I realized how inexplicably lucky I am, and how much I owe the aviation community.

But I know I can never pay back the aviation community. Their goodwill, encouragement, and bummed rides are donations to the future of aviation . . . given in kind with the understanding that I will do all I can to pay it forward. (I guess they really did a good job guilting me, huh?)

It's why I believe so much in promoting grassroots aviation, and why I believe so strongly in a grassroots movement. While I read magazines about learning to fly, nothing could replace the first time I was introduced as the "ramp rat" (thanks Norm). I was in! I was validated! Nothing could replace the first time an airport member offered to take me flying . . . and let me fly his airplane. No article could ever top that.

So many kids go through life without those moments. Again, call me a hopeless romantic, but I think I have a higher calling, and not just literally. It may turn out that aviation is never a job for me--I don't know what the future holds, but I know I'm excited about it. I'm excited because I have in mind so many things I want to do--things that are farther-reaching and bigger than I could ever be, things that will hopefully bring new, passionate souls to recognize their calling to the sky.

But I can't do it alone. Will you help me reach out to others? Will you give me new ideas?

I know I'm cheesy, ok? But I am from Wisconsin, so it must be genetic. Cheesiness aside, I really do believe all of this corny stuff I write. I really do. Talk to me some time in person and you'll see.

And please help me to get others involved--I'd really appreciate any and all feedback.

P.S. I have added some photos to my Flickr gallery, found at


Bright Future

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