I have had so many things on my mind recently that it’s been difficult to put just one thought to paper, or rather, keyboard. But, some very excellent margaritas (oh, fine, here’s the recipe, you sots: 1 part Jose Cuervo Especial,
1/2 part cheap-crappy-probably-as-old-as-Methuselah Triple Sec, 1/2 part lime juice and 2 parts generic margarita mixer) and a lovely post from my dear friend (can I legally say that about someone I’ve only met by blog?), Bee, has inspired me. So, suck it up, my friends, and endure my drunken ramblings. Or not. Whatever strips your gears, I always say. Am I an alcoholic if I can only compose a coherent, entertaining blog post when I’m inebriated? Eh, we’ll examine that another time. I’m low on Cuervo.
“Be the Captain.” I’ve been stewing on this for a while and I guess it just takes a little bit of mental KY (i.e. yummy margaritas) to give me the (most likely false) sense of security to write about it.
While I was in training for my freight pilot job, one of my favorite instructors would constantly harp on us to “be the captain.” Unfortunately, most of us didn’t get it, at least not right away. Some of us didn’t get it until much later in our careers. A few of us didn’t get it at all and that’s just one of the reasons not everyone made it through training. I believe I finally understood what he was talking about about a week after my catastrophic (at least to me) check ride with him.
It started out like any other check ride. I had all the flight plans in order. I had confirmed that the aircraft was airworthy and ready for flight. I was nervous, but I knew I could handle whatever he could dish out. I would pass my test, and be on the next flight to Midway Airport to collect my car and sleep in my own bed. But I was wrong. He wasn’t looking for someone with all the right answers, he was looking for someone who could “be the captain.”
He continuously questioned my decisions. He played on my fears of incompetency. He insinuated that potential dangers might exist. He, quite frankly, made me feel like I had no idea what the hell I was doing thinking that I could possibly operate an aircraft at all. He morphed into a complete stranger, mockingly twirling the keys to my future on his index finger while saying, “I don’t know….I suppose I’ll have to discuss your performance with my superior before I can determine what to do with you.”
Describing my reaction as “devastated” would be an epic understatement. I could not comprehend in my wildest imagination what could possibly have gone wrong. I did whatever he asked, flawlessly. But that was exactly the opposite of what he wanted. He wanted me to “be the captain.”
“Being the captain” means assuming the ultimate authority and responsibility for the flight. The captain makes all the hard decisions. The captain does whatever it takes to ensure that the flight is successful, safe and efficient. The captain, is, as far as that particular flight is concerned, God. He was simply waiting for me to exert my authority as captain and tell him to “kindly shut the hell up.” The fact that I chose instead to cry like a two-year-old with a boo-boo caused him a considerable amount of consternation.
My point is this: you, too, are the captain. You have the ultimate authority and responsibility for your life. Everything is a choice (perhaps some seem more so than others, but they are all choices) and the final decision rests in your hands. It’s all up to you. So, what are you going to do, Captain?
Personally, I’m going to bed. I have children to send to school in the morning.