I took my first four hours of flight training yesterday and today. Why, you may ask, wasn’t taking up motorcycle riding at age 61 enough? You may be surprised to learn that neither motorcycles nor flying have been passions I abided until retirement.
My late maternal grandfather, Mark White, always made fun of Eleanor Roosevelt’s distinctive voice, probably, as a conservative Republican just to rib my grandmother Deane, raised a moderate to liberal Democrat (they taught me first-hand about bipartisanship.) He did a pretty good imitation too, but I was far more influenced by one of the First Lady’s quotes my grandfather often used.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Now, I assumed Mrs. Roosevelt’s meant “challenges,” “pushes,” even “discomforts.” Anyway, the saying resonated with me and I took it to heart.
I would have been happy just learning to ride the big bikes or even something smaller but after training to ride them, I realized it opened up a whole new world of challenges. Believe me, it is both humbling and exhilarating but never boring. You’re always a bit “scared” and the same is true of flying an airplane.
The same was true of my approach during four decades of leading Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs.) Becoming qualified for the job was a never-ending process of change and growth both for me, the organization and the three communities I represented. I woke up every morning determined to push myself by doing things outside my comfort zone.
Not everyone in similar positions goes at it with zeal, passion or never-ending drive to improve and grow. Many in the same profession appear satisfied to practice community marketing today, just as I did when I first started out in the early 1970s and apparently that’s what works for some communities.
Fortunately for Durham, though, some do - including my successor, who as I observed over 20 years of working together, goes about the job in the same way albeit, much to the relief of some I’m sure, with a very different personal style.
Flying has always seemed romantic to me but in a historical sense. I love old airplanes and air museums but I always seemed to get more than a bite nauseous on amusement park rides as well as during occasional flight seeing over the years.
Never a Fremont County Fair went by, before or after I came along, without either my Dad dragging me up on a plane ride (that’s a 1935 souvenir of his first on the left,) always in a “tail-dragger” and from a very short St. Anthony, ID gravel strip.
Those who know I also grew up hearing stories about my Dad’s first cousin and best friend who was killed in action during WWII when as the tail-gunner his B-26 Marauder was shot down over Italy or watching as my uncle, just seven years older and a good friend growing up, flew fighter planes on more than 300 north missions over Vietnam, only to be killed flying for the DEA, might bethinking I could or should have taken a pass on learning to fly, right?
Perhaps, but it is a challenge and falls under “doing one thing a day that scares me. I’m also drawn to the challenge of seeing if I can master a whole new set of procedures, controls and techniques. Fortunately, while I still dislike amusement rides, flying a plane (knock on wood) doesn’t make me feel nauseous.
Just as I learned as a kid growing up, first riding and then even reading in the back seats of cars, for me, it all has to do with keeping my eyes focused, or at least I hope:-)
Maybe if I can learn to fly, I can circle back for my next challenge and master that old loop-a-plane without throwing up and make my late father proud? Nah, I’ll stick with learning to fly the real thing. Sorry Dad, it is a lot more tame!