Pilots tend to have a dry sense of humor. The unnatural act of placing yourself in a tin can and being propelled through the air at hundreds of miles per hour leads to a disconnect between one’s opposing senses of wit and self-preservation. A popular cliche is that a successful landing is one you walk away from; a really successful landing is when the plane is still in one piece.
Following that unassailable logic, my wife and I have been thinking about writing a self-help book based on what we’ve learned from our “take-offs” and “landings”. Having been intermittently separated, we’ve found that cruising altitude is usually smooth and turbulence-free. Like any flight (or fall), it’s the nature of the sudden stop at the end that is critically important. It is so easy to get caught up in the details (buckle your seat belt, here are the exits, can I get some peanuts?) that we lose sight of the headwinds that reduce our relationship groundspeed to a crawl.
There are several things I’ve tried; some successful, others resulting in a flaming pile of debris on the runway. Giving your spouse attention is not simply buying something at the duty-free shop, unless they really like whiskey, in which case you’ll be just fine (or probably not, to be honest). It’s also not like the trash-hoops game the flight attendants play. You know the game, the one where they hustle down the aisle at a half-sprint with the trash bag and you have to toss in your empty cup and napkin as they go by. Three points if you make it from the window seat.
I think we’ve been happiest during aimless walks through the Ozarks, cutting lazy figure-eights while tubing on the lake, or on endless ski runs in northern New Mexico.
Selfish itineraries, poorly-scheduled connections, and a general tendency to focus on the destination seem to be effective metaphors for all the things we allow to come between us. With all of the tragic imagery on the news the past few days (and our prayers go up for those whose families are forever shaken by the recent AirAsia crash), this is an ideal time to look over at our co-pilot and make sure we do whatever it takes to bring everyone home.