What would you like to do for your birthday? she asked. I had no idea at the time how complex this question was. Throwing out a number of ideas, some realistic and some silly, she casually included learning to fly. It didn’t begin to occur to me that learning to fly was a serious suggestion.
A few months later Bethany mentioned that she had purchased a surprise excursion that we had to use before the middle of May. When I finally discovered what we were doing I asked why we didn’t do so over my birthday like she had originally intended. “When I asked if you wanted to learn to fly you didn’t answer,” she replied.
Bethany had purchased a flight over LA from Justice Aviation in which we would both have a chance to take off, land and maneuver the plane in the air, under the supervision of a pilot. Bethany took her turn first, taking off from Santa Monica and flying along the coast of Malibu. The views were breathtaking and I sat in the back capturing photos and videos of the experience.
After landing, we switched places and I helped fly the plane over Los Angeles, by the Hollywood sign and around downtown. It was an exhilarating experience to adjust the controls on the plane and to feel it respond. The pilot was engaging and loved to fly. What an amazing way to explore the city that we would move to only six months later!
While preparing for my last trip to East Africa, I reached out for advice from a man who cares for orphaned children living with AIDS in Uganda. Taking advantage of the time that he was living in San Diego while pursuing a Ph.D., we met up to discuss the water project that I was embarking upon in Kenya. After talking through a variety of approaches to the project, I will never forget the advice that he left me with. “Just do something.”
I’ve spent much of the past several years trying to figure out why it takes me so long to get anything done. The objectives that matter most to me always seem to be stuck in a holding pattern. I’m starting to realize that these indefinite holds have much to do with misunderstanding the relationship between clarity and courage.
I remember the day when I pulled a magazine off the shelf at Barnes and Noble and started reading an article about how to start a blog. It described the basics steps involved in joining Blogspot and creating your first post. I was living in Homer, Alaska at the time as part of a two week visit that turned into a year-long stay.
Homer is a town of about five thousand people and nicknamed “The End of the Road” because it is the farthest western town connected by road to the rest of North America. Visiting Anchorage, a four-hour drive away, gave us a chance to catch up on what we had missed at the end of the road and the biggest bookstore around was always a must-visit.