A new kind of action

Eric took this photo from the cockpit of his T-37 while flying in close-trail formation. Too close for comfort!

Eric (at age 20 or 21) took this photo from the cockpit of his T-37 during training,
while flying in close-trail formation. Too close for comfort!

“The defense force inside of us wants us to be cautious, to stay away from anything as intense as a new kind of action.  Its job is to protect us, and it categorically avoids anything resembling danger.  But it is often wrong.”Barbara Sher

I don’t know about you, but just looking at the photo posted above makes me a bit nervous.  I get edgy enough when there’s not a lot of following distance between me and the car just ahead, but an airplane?  No wonder I never became a pilot!

That photo was taken during a crucially important early stage of my brother’s successful and rewarding career in aviation.  There might be a part of him that wonders why he was not more afraid of an adventure so obviously risky, but if you asked him, I imagine he would tell you he has no regrets.  Easy for me to say that in hindsight, knowing that he survived and thrived. If he had not survived pilot training (as more than one of his fellow pilots did not) I might feel quite differently.

But years ago a friend told me something that rang true to me.  He said our worst regrets almost always come from things we left undone, rather than from things we did.  That may not be true in all cases, but looking back over my own life, I feel it’s true for me.

As mentioned in the recent post about Rickenbacker, there’s nothing wrong with being afraid.  Fear can be a healthy and good thing, but it also can hold us back.  Are there any big or little things you’d like to do, that you’re afraid to try?  Could your self-protective instincts be wrong about some of the things you fear?

One year ago today:

Yonder lies the way


  1. Good morning, Julia. 🙂
    I could look back… wish I had been a better parent. Usually, I don’t look at things I can’t change…

    • Merry, I think you are wise not to fret over what can’t be changed. Having said that, remember parents are often too hard on themselves. You may have been better at it than you know! Hope you have a sunny day today.

  2. Sheila

    Julia, that’s quite an impressive photo. I sense that Eric certainly has “survived and thrived” very well! I always enjoy his comments of wisdom AND adventure here. I tend to be a “white knuckle” traveler, car or plane. Bill would love for me to be able to drive our Motorhome and give him an occasional break. I really have no desire to do that. For practical purposes (and emergency) I should know how. I’ll get back to you on that! 🙂 Have a very good week.

    • Sheila, believe it or not, the main reason we don’t get a motorhome is that I’m too nervous about being on the road driving around in one! Jeff is a much better driver than I am, so he does all the driving (it has driven him crazy when I’ve had to drive during his recovery periods 🙂 ) but I would be way too nervous riding in a “wide load” such as that. I wish I could get over it, because I think it would be so much fun to have one! Hope you have a good week too. This will be a busy one for us, but hopefully in a good way.

      • Sheila

        Julia, I should have known we would have this in common. 🙂 Our traveling in the “wide load” was most nerve wracking on our trip to Gettysburg by way of DC. It was way too narrow, too fast, and too much traffic. We even clipped a mirror on a UPS truck making a turn. At least we gave up riding Harleys. Now that’s another story! I am thinking of y’all knowing it’s a busy week. “Hi” to your guys!

        • Sheila, I once clipped a mirror on a parked car while driving a Toyota Camry, so I have no idea what I might destroy from behind the wheel of an RV! The mind boggles. I’m sure we can all rest easier knowing that I have no intention to drive an RV or even a Harley, EVER, though I envy those who have the nerve and skill to do it. Drive through DC in an RV? My hair would turn white, assuming I made it back alive! Hope you all are having a good week. I’m still laughing in disbelief at the several inches of snow that fell today. I’m glad it didn’t stick much on the asphalt, but the ground and trees are covered AGAIN!

  3. Jack

    Julia, maybe you need to look at things from a little different angle. For some people, me included, starting a blog and risking the possibility that no one would read, comment or otherwise follow would seem a huge risk to take, but you, to quote Lady Macbeth “screwed your courage to the sticking place” and passed that test with flying colors. We’ve all got monsters lurking in our paths and there’s no way around them except to fight them. “Fear knocks, faith answers and lo, no one was there.” I wish I knew that at 22!

    • Jack, thanks so much for these thoughts. To tell the truth, though of course I wanted people to read my blog, I paradoxically found it way more scary to think that anyone WOULD read what I wrote, than to fear that they wouldn’t. It felt strange and vulnerable to put my thoughts out there for the general public to see. Actually, it felt more like an act of desperation than of courage, as I had to do something to keep my mind off all the reasons I had to be fearful and sad. I never dreamed where it would go, but it has been a tremendous blessing to me. I appreciate your words of encouragement, and your presence here!

  4. I think fear held me back in some ways, not in others. I took risks and reaped rewards (like leaving a boring job and traveling through Europe alone for two months), but there are other things I wish I had tried. Not dangerous things (like skydiving or piloting a plane) but life things. That being said, I’m happy with my life, my family, my friends and my current career so life is good.

    • Alys, taking a couple of months to travel through Europe is on my own “wish I’d done that list” but like you, I really have no regrets. All the things we missed only make us happier for the ones we have.

  5. You’re right, that photo does make me queasy too. All this news about the missing, now found airline only reinforces my feelings about flying. My heart goes out to their loved ones.
    If you want to go places, you must bare it. That might be the answer to phobia’s, just grin and bare it because they can be crippling. We’ve talked about bridges before, I get super nervous if I have to stop in my car before I get over. But living downtown, we’re always driving across a bridge so, I just concentrate on staying calm and it’s over quick enough. Maybe the more you do something, the less scary it is. I hope so.

    • I hope so too, but I can’t really tell if I’ve gotten less afraid of crossing railroad tracks or not. There are three near Mama and Daddy’s house, and I always cringe when we drive over them. For about the first ten year they lived there, I kept begging them both to PROMISE me they would look carefully both ways before crossing! (It doesn’t help my nerves that at least one of them has no crossing lights or gates 😦 )

  6. raynard

    Juila , I remember most of the 37 plane rides I took. It was that next to last one to Iraq was the longest. I got back and flew to Arizona, and was honored by the pilot going there when he found out a Veteran was on his flight. Humbling as it was , I stayed in coach to speak to a young man about the military. Be blessed

    • Raynard, Jeff and I have been surprised and grateful how many people stop to thank us for his service. I think our country learned a very hard lesson from the way the Viet Nam veterans were treated by many people. I think pilots have a special fondness for military folks because so many of them learned to fly in the military. I’m glad you took the time to talk to that young man. Jeff gets a lot of questions about what military life is like. We can say honestly that the Air Force has been very good to us and most of the people we know from A.F., Army, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard feel likewise. It’s a way of life that not everyone could enjoy, but for some of us, it has way more blessings than drawbacks.

  7. michael

    I would like to visit the pyramids of Egypt. Now is probably not the best time for a visit, but why not? I would like to also see Cuba someday.
    What is happening with the weather? You on the East with more snow today? We in Washington with a devastating mudslide and many still missing- 16 confirmed deaths- about 80 miles north of us.
    That would be my nightmare to be stuck in mud up to my shoulders and the mud is getting higher and there is no way out.
    That is a great thought- our worst regrets. Will I look back and say -gee I wish I had seen those pyramids?

    • Michael, I too would like to see the pyramids, but a friend who visited there in recent years did feel somewhat afraid and I think that marred her experience. But that may have been an isolated situation that was going on when they were there. I have always wanted to go to Egypt and I hope to go someday. Cuba is said to be a beautiful country from a geographic standpoint, so maybe it will eventually be safe and easy to travel there. We can always hope.

      That mudslide sounds horrible. I never even think about such things happening and really have no concept of them. I agree it would be a complete nightmare, like quicksand, the idea of which used to seem terrifying to me (I would see it on Tarzan when I was a kid).

      I don’t want to look back and feel that I wasted my life in stuff that really didn’t matter, such as worrying about keeping the house perfectly clean. Jeff says there is absolutely no danger of that! 😀 😀 😀

  8. michael

    It looks like a snowpocalypse.

    • That’s a pretty fitting description of the past year. I’m glad we got it one storm at a time and didn’t know how much lay ahead of us. SURELY this is the last snow of the year? (I have vivid memories of an April snow on Easter Sunday while we lived in Ohio, but that was Ohio…)

  9. michael

    I remember snow here on March 21st- three years ago. Yea Ohio. My daughter in law’s parents have had a tough winter and live near Dayton.- Miamisburg.

    • We lived near Dayton, in Huber Heights. Aside from the weather, we really loved it there. Ohio is a nice place, beautiful countryside and friendly people.

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