Everyone’s wondering which way they should go, but in reality it is healthier and more fruitful to be more concerned with how we go than where. Having a good landing or a desired destination does not make a horrible flight in an airplane any better.
Regardless of our destination or schedule, our attitude will follow us wherever we go, and ‘attitude’ is actually a great word for our mindset, because pilots also talk about the attitude of an airplane.
Is the plane pointed upward, toward the sky and opportunity, or is the plane pointed toward the ground and is the horizon shrinking? That’s attitude. It can lead us straight into a huge crash, but it can also even be too positive and we stall. And for periods it can even level off. That is why it requires our attention.
Instead of controls in the cockpit of an airplane, as human beings we control our internal attitudes with our thoughts. We are our own internal pilots.
Any good pilot knows that the landscape and weather surrounding them will impact their flight, but they also accept that being a pilot means we are there to face that exact challenge.
Being born is much the same way; it automatically signs us up for the challenge of us learning to survive or even thrive during our lifetimes, and along the way we achieve some peace by accepting the inevitable fates in our lives. We still have freedom and can act, but no one set of choices allows anyone to live without pain in their lives.
This is where attitude can make all the difference. A plane can fly over a storm. It can also fly low to get under one. It can also smash into a mountainside in an emotional storm that fogs up our view of what to do.
Whether and landscape and weather affecting the plane are warm, and soft and hospitable, or whether our context is jagged, and icy and dangerous, our plane can still fly over, around or –when we must– through it, all with a positive attitude.
As long as a plane’s attitude is healthy then the ugliness of the terrain below it is far less relevant. So it is with life. We should be less concerned with what landscapes we are passing by or passing over, and we should be more concerned with maintaining positive control over our attitude. We are not people in weathering storms, we are pilots at the controls.
If we focus all of our attention on looking down at some ugly spot of reality or on some ugly possibility, we will obviously lower our attitude. The more we focus on our problem the more we fly toward it. It’s why in a skid in a car the driver should always look toward where we want to go —not at what we don’t want to hit.
The things we require are our awareness as pilots, and a destination. A destination may not create happiness itself, but having one can help to motivate a journey that moves through happiness. We still want to be inspired.
We obviously cannot fly based on where we don’t want to go. And why not fly based on where we do want to go? As long as we enjoy our journey, we can get there, change directions on the way, or not get there at all and our lives would still be well-lived. The is always the going, the being and the doing, not an arrival.
We also do not need make choosing a direction in any part of life into too big of a deal. Our directions occur to us without us asking for them. Our preferences are like natural individual guidance systems. And ours answers are always only temporary. That is why we shouldn’t question ourselves so much.
When we argue with ourselves we are arguing with nature. We are arguing with who the universe has made us into. By arguing with our route through life, we argue with having the experiences that will turn us into the people we intended to be.
We may be given our plane (our history), a landscape (our opportunities) and the weather (the vagaries of life), but as soul pilots no one else sets our flight plan for life. Our upbringing merely teaches us to fly –and often not very well. But where we go is ultimately up to us.
We are a co-creators in the universe. We are an aspect of the big dream. And each of us are here to fulfill our aspects of the universe’s magnificence. We do this by being ourselves, not by being some ‘better self.’
By actively being ourselves we make no more mistakes than sodium and chloride make in creating salt. Sometimes salt makes ice cream, sometimes salt rusts steel. There is no right or wrong way for us to be. The way we go is the way to go.
The way we get there peacefully is by paying less attention to the weather and landscape outside the plane, and more attention on how we as conscious pilots are maintaining our attitudes within our mental cockpit. That’s how Mother Teresa not only survived giving up privilege, it’s also how she thrived working for a lifetime in a slum with lepers.
We can spend our lives avoiding what we don’t want, but if we do so we doom ourselves to never have our own direction, and our life will be spent in fear. Life’s too short for that. We are better to invest our lives in pursuing what enthuses us.
Yes, we all will have to fly over some ugly terrain, in terrible storms, in order to get to all of the experiences we’ll want to have in life. But that is irrelevant if we have a focused, positive, healthy attitude in the pilot’s seat.
Accept that there is no such thing as ready, and there is no such thing as your path or the right thing to do. There is only: What. We. Do. In doing just that, we represent the little part of the universe that is us. This is how we contribute. This is our value. This is how we enact ourselves. We forever become.
All of our journeys will include times where we will abandon control, or when our flying will be near-suicidal. We all do that. The plane-of-life doesn’t come with instructions. But with a bit of luck —and maybe some help from things like this blog and our friends— we can all ensure that we’re at least being vigilant about our attitudes.
As often as possible we should do our best to remain aware of the choices we’re making regarding the angle of our attitude. Staying conscious of that choice not only represents a wise and more peaceful path through life, but it is also gives us the ability to effectively control our journey through reality.
Flying is in our nature. Relax. Have a great trip!
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.