There’s no witty way to say that Me has been lost in a very comprehensible pile of shitola over the past few months. I had two books due (book #1 on 9/15 and book #2 on 10/20), business trips, an abortion of a 20th high school reunion and well – just shit. As of last Thursday, the comprehensible pile has come to a much-welcomed end. If it were a pile of fall leaves in the backyard, I could finally see the grass again instead of being stuck in a windstorm that just continuously fucked my efforts to rake up the bleeding mess into a manageable pile.
Which brings me to Hawaii
While the pile of shit I’d been living in was comprehensible, my sleep has not been. After hitting the send button on Thursday evening and summarily jettisoning my manuscript into the Road to Publication ether, I slept for 8 hours. I woke up on Friday in a bit of a fog, wondering what the hell had just happened. 8 hours, my own bed, no pressing deadline. Incomprehensible. Inconceivable, even.
It was unnerving. Yet, I set about the process of getting my life back after letting it run me for quite some time. I spent the weekend surrounded by people I like, who make me feel good. I laughed. I decided to run six miles (no explanation). And on Saturday evening, I got to fly a $20m full-motion Boeing 777 flight simulator. I took off, flew, and landed all over the world. And here’s where we talk about Honolulu.
Being someone who’s pretty comfortable in the back of an airplane, I’d never really put much thought into what goes on up front. I mean, shit – as long as everyone’s sober and they get the plane up and down without incident (evident by my typing this post, I’ve flown sans incident), I’m right as rain. Let me tell you: it’s an entirely different world when you’re sitting in the cockpit of a flight simulator that costs a gazillion dollars and tasked with taking that thing up into the air, flying it and putting it back down on the virtual ground without making headlines. I didn’t have any real expectations of what the experience would be like when a friend invited me along for the experience and left with any expectations I had blown out of the virtual water surrounding Hawaii.
First and foremost, I did not crash. And before you get all judgy on me for being proud of not crashing a “fake plane,” there’s a reason this thing costs $20 million. It’s real airplane parts. Real equipment. It’s what the pilots that fly you and me all over god’s own creation train in. And when your hands are on the controls and you’re told you’re at rotation speed and to pull back on the yoke…oh, and don’t crash…it’s not a fake plane.
Side note: I’d gone into the experience with a somewhat cavalier attitude, sporting a pair of black high-heeled boots and declarations that I’d be playing the role of the Jet Blue flight attendant for the evening. In retrospect, heels are super crappy footwear for controlling rudders. In case you were wondering.
Over two hours, I got to take off and land a huge fucking plane at three airports around the world. We started in San Francisco and ended in London, and my last turn at the controls was a takeoff and landing in Honolulu. Well, right after I took off, the awesome guy (he really was awesome) running our simulator decided to blow one of my engines.
I believe I squealed at an eardrum-piercing volume (like a GIRL) and let a “Shitballs!” fly (which the simulator operator was apparently amused by, not having heard that particular turn of phrase before) and summarily had to get my shit together so I didn’t crash my “fake airplane.” Let’s just say that there is a “pause” button in the simulator (for which I am thankful) and I never ever thought I’d be so worried about crashing a “fake” airplane.
But I was.
Which brings me to what we believe is real
Having lost so much of myself over the past few months, it was incredibly cool to go face-first into a total nerdgasm on Saturday in the flight simulator. Sometimes life brings us experiences and opportunities we never imagined we’d have and when those come along, you just kinda have to grab on and believe what’s happening. Kinda like climbing into a fake plane, y’know? We could fight them or treat them with less respect than they deserve (which is what we tend to do way too often, I think) or we could believe. We could give them their propers, embrace that we have no idea how it’s all going to turn out, and just smile a shiteating grin ear to ear while we figure out how to fly a plane with one engine.
What we perceive to be real is, more often than not, exactly what’s going to be our reality. So on Saturday, I had a near-miss with a $20 million plane over Honolulu and it made me think for the better part of the weekend that remained about what I paint as my reality on a daily basis.
When I see my life as overwhelming, guess what? It’s going to be overwhelming. If all I can think about is panic and holy fuck what was that noise my plane just blew an engine oh godfuckingofallhamstersdammit, how much energy do I have left to deal with the situation that needs dealing with?
Which is the problem. We spend more time on the emotions attached to our situations than we spend on the situations themselves.
See, for two months, I’ve been freaking out about ignoring my blog audience. Overwhelmed, on book deadline, short on sleep, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to put it all out there and post as often as I felt I owed you. Here I was, writing a book where the primary focus is on brand personality and understanding how to build a brand for the people who will pick up what you’re putting down, and I was ignoring the people who were already picking it up. Fuck me, right?
Realities are what we choose. No more, no less. If you put yourself in a world where 98% of your attention is diverted away from you, you’re going to lose you. When you tell yourself that you don’t have time for you, it’s guaranteed that you won’t. You’ll probably also start to resent yourself if you (god forbid) take a moment out for yourself because what kind of asshole does that?
So on Saturday, I flew a big ass plane and didn’t crash. And for the rest of the weekend, I worked on shifting my perception and sorting out what my reality truly is instead of what all this bullshit I’d let in told me it was. I never thought I’d get mad wisdom from a flight simulator experience – goes to show you what I know (and what any of us know for that matter).
And back to you…
You’ve been here for the past 358 days of what’s been a crazy ride – the year since Jason died. On October 31 last year, everything I thought to be reality was indiscriminately shattered and I was left to pick up the pieces. At first, it was like shards of glass cutting my fingers each time, giving me a little “fuck you” for even trying. And now almost a year later, you’re still here. As am I. A better me – a much different me – than before. I’d venture to guess that your lives are much the same – different and better. Maybe more one than the other. We should all be a bit more skeptical of our perceptions, as they’re just as influential and have the power to derail a well-lived, meaningful life as the things we consider to be real.
Our perceptions can be delusions and our delusions…well, they can be perceptions. I think the best thing I can do is take more time for myself and cut myself some slack. Give myself the time to sit and think about what’s important and why I feel this way. While a one-engine-down commercial airliner at your controls doesn’t really offer the luxury of pondering, I can do better about treating everything in life as if there’s a decision to be made, and now. And when you cut yourself just a little bit of slack, you just might find that you get to walk around with sore cheeks from smiling so much from an experience you never thought you’d have.
So thanks for hanging in there while I had a distorted perception of my reality, when I forgot that y’all are the most important aspect of what I get to do for a living. The single best part of the whole weekend is, aside from being “back” for all of you, knowing that if I’m ever on a flight where 80% of the passengers and crew had the fish, I can raise my hand when they ask if anyone knows how to fly a plane.
Because I can (just a little bit). And bonus? I also speak jive.
The bitch is back. See you Wednesday – I think it’s time for a fresh Bitch Slap. All in favor?