In the flying world there are many different disciplines to explore. The very basic and fundamental is in the beginning… learning how to fly. Back in the “day” spectators would gather from miles around just to see the magical feat of man defying laws of nature and flying. A day where stick and rudder skills were achieved by the precision and art of airmanship. One learned to fly not with a radio but by the seat of their pants, literally feeling the aircraft fly by feeling the effects on your body; feeling coordinated flight versus reading off a gauge. Basic trainers now have the ever sought after glass cockpits with Sirius radio, and autopilot. The art of airmanship which revolved around these antiquated planes has been replaced with technology. Instead of learning to fly with our hearts and feelings, it has now evolved into following a magenta line and autopilot. Autopilot was never designed to make a pilot become lazy, it was designed to aide in alleviating cockpit stresses. When the autopilot is engaged, a pilot should be continuously monitoring systems to ensure the safety of the flight. Not flying less, but actively and consciously flying more.

Somehow, along the way, punching “Direct enter” and following the path, we miss the other 99.99 percent of the world around us. We fail to miss community even in our neighborhoods by simply stopping to saw hi and look one another in the eye – relationships on autopilot. A few weeks ago I shared some thoughts about relationships and formation flying. Formation flying can not be even attempted with autopilot. In fact it can’t be used AT ALL and would be catastrophic. There are so many factors that are constantly changing where it is impossible to attempt such an act. And yet the majority of life, people walk around on autopilot.

I see a direct correlation to how many live their lives. Once they are airborne, autopilot is engaged. Sometimes it can seem rather convenient and almost survivalist when carting children around from point A to B; practices, games, parent teacher conferences, school photos, Pinterest themed birthday parties to gossiping about children’s achievements, awards and so forth. We count down days to vacation in this life, which oddly reminds us of “Groundhog Day” and essentially living for the weekend.

Autopilot (technology) was never meant to replace navigation, communication or flying. The same can be said about replacing your life with a list of errands, text messages or not allowing ourselves to be bored, experience pain, experience joy and so forth. We have lost the art of living, just as much as there is a lost intimacy in the art of flying. There is an intimacy that exists in life, in all that we do.

Is flying really flying if we are simply there to keep our hands off the controls? Life is not something that happens to us, not anymore than flying is a nonflying event. It’s a hands on, engines turning, soul driven adventure. It requires making small adjustments constantly, accepting failure, achievement, unforeseen weather, mechanical failures, sometimes fatigue and knowing when to press forward and when to call it a day and rest.

Flying, like life, is not measured by the hours logged, but the moments experienced and, by embracing that, we find the place where the adventure begins.

Life isn’t in the awards. Life is in the life that occurred to get to the award. Life is in the failures, the art of trying, and the art of achieving.

If you are feeling isolated, not connected, then I would encourage you to kick the autopilot disengage button. Make a trim adjustment to kick off the autopilot and bring back the art of feeling flight. Feel the weight of the controls and navigate through them. Flying isn’t something that just happens to me, it comes alive with the touch of my hands.

My life comes alive when I don’t just let life happen to me.

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