Be the navigator

From the family archives, a photo of Daddy in flight training sometime in the mid -1960s.

From the family archives, a photo of Daddy in flight training sometime in the mid -1960s.

“Time flies.  It’s up to you to be the navigator.”Robert Orben

Though our circumstances differ, and some of us have more opportunities than others, each of us has the power to determine how we will react to the externals we cannot control.  We plan our lives much as a navigator plots a course of travel by land or sky or sea, always knowing the path may be altered by unexpected events.

We’re lucky to have at hand a variety of resources to help us make sound decisions: documented absolutes and laws, instruments that give us a fairly reliable set of readings, and stories of those who have gone before us on the route we choose to take.  If we are wise, we will pay attention to the cumulative experiences of people who have tried and failed, as well as the ones who succeeded.  We will understand that preparation is a continual process.

Most of us are fortunate in having fellow crew members with us on the journey.  Our opinions about how to handle crisis may differ, but we are reassured to know that when troubles arise, we will not be alone.

Still, none of these assets can relieve us of the responsibility of making the best of our limited time on earth.  Difficulties will sometimes frustrate us into thinking that time is dragging, but in reality, it never is.  Time really does fly, whether we are having fun or not.  Let’s do another instrument check, and keep those maps at hand.  We’ll be there before we know it.

One year ago today:



  1. Good morning, Julia! Great photo!
    When I first read “it’s up to you to be the navigator,” I thought “great, it’s up to me to be everything else, too!”
    But that’s just the point – with so many competing ideas and activities, we need to navigate the available choices, to use time to our benefit. Thanks for that concept!

    • Susan, your initial reaction sounds so much like me. My family is probably getting tired of hearing me ask “Is there any reason why I need to be the one to do that?” since I’ve been sort of the all-purpose go-to person for minor tasks. For me, part of figuring out how to navigate the rest of my life is to find ways to cut back on spending time on things that are neither necessary nor fulfilling. I’m getting quite tough about screening out junk phone calls, junk mail, and any other “junk” we can live without. I suppose that navigators don’t take many detours, or they’d never reach their destinations! Thanks for being here today.

  2. Good Thursday morning, Julia. It’s still AM I trust, although this day seems to be flying. πŸ™‚ I love the photo you’ve chosen today of Mr. Carlyle. Bill and I discussed with his dad how the days seem shorter and faster as “life’s window” becomes smaller. I’m so glad that Dr. Vann lived his life to overflowing until the glorious moment that this earthly window closed and the ultimate eternal window was flung open! Enjoy this more than gorgeous day! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Sheila, my day certainly flew by so I’m not sure how it got to be 5 pm before I got to these comments. Glad you liked the photo of Daddy; that was when he was in training to move up to a different plane not long after he first made captain. I can still remember that shirt he is wearing in the photo! Yes, we are all on limited time and people such as Dr. Vann have left us a good example of how to make the most of it. I know you must still miss him, but what a consolation to have such a well-lived life to remember. Thanks for being here today – your comments are always a wonderful addition to my day!

  3. Great post Julia,
    A former colleague in teaching had a sign above the clock in her classroom for her students. Thought it would apply here: “Time passes. Will you?”

    • Hey, that’s clever! I’ve never seen it before, either. For a lot of students, it’s worth considering.

  4. singleseatfighterpilot

    The first book I co-authored, published 17 years ago, contained a chapter on navigating the challenging waters of courtship and marriage. I hope I did not overuse metaphors, but they abound. From rocky shores to narrow straits, to sudden gales, any navigator has his work cut out for him!

    • Yes, but what lovely views, too — and what an experience! πŸ˜€

  5. That’s a cool picture of your dad. It looks very intimidating doesn’t it? Certainly, they are well prepared and by being so, it’s much less intimidating to a pilot. I think you’re so right, by being well prepared, life is much more enjoyable and most of the time offer up far more gifts. I’m grateful for the opportunities afforded to me and when life offers a challenge that seems insurmountable, I seek help. Knowledge is power. xK

    • I asked Daddy once how he could remember what all those buttons and dials were, and what to do with them. He said “The same way a pianist knows every key on a piano.” That made sense to me, but the cockpit is still intimidating. I think it would be less so now, with everything computerized, but I think the innate understanding of aerodynamics needs to be there. We are tremendously lucky to have lifelong opportunities to learn and grow, and lots of help along the way. As a librarian, of course, I have loved the idea that “knowledge is power.”

  6. This spoke to me the most: “preparation is a continual process.” I agree. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you. I sometimes wish preparation was not such a perpetual necessity, but it does keep us on our toes!

  7. raynard

    Julia this picture reminds me of when I was stationed at Ft Dix NJ. and assigned to the airfield. I was a aircraft refueler. I use to look inside the helicopters and( that might of been O.C D moments ( then started singing The Big Bird Alphabet song lol I digress

    • I have never been inside a helicopter or even seen what one looks like. I would like to but I am kind of afraid of them. The husband of a friend of mine from the Air Force was a helicopter pilot. He lost some of his colleagues to a crash many years ago and it was traumatic for them.

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