The only real difference

This isn't retouched; it really looked like this. Southwest flight 2361, November 2015

This isn’t retouched; it really looked like this.
Southwest flight 2361, November 2015

“The only real difference between Anxiety and Excitement was my willingness to let go of Fear.”Barbara Brown Taylor 

Sometime during our sons’ toddler years, around 1987, we had the misfortune to be on a really harrowing airline flight from Tampa to Charlotte en route back to our home in Dayton, Ohio. It’s the only time I’ve been on an airplane where the storm was so violent and the turbulence so extreme that people were screaming in fear.  The captain announced, grimly, that there was no way to fly above or below the widespread thunderstorm; the flight attendants would have to remain strapped in, as would the rest of us, and we’d just have to tough it out.  It didn’t help that it was a late flight, pitch dark outside except for the lightning.

This was during my years at USAir (then Piedmont Airlines), and we were flying “non-rev,” which meant that we were on free space-available passes, taking whatever seats had been left. It was a full flight, so we couldn’t sit together.  Jeff sat with one son and I took the other (I don’t even remember who was with whom).  I was seated next to another Piedmont employee, a mechanic, whose coworker sat across the aisle from us.  During some of the worst moments, he exchanged fairly horrified looks with his friend.  That wasn’t reassuring amid the sounds of airsickness, crying and fear all around us.

Eventually we landed safely in Charlotte, where I begged Jeff to rent a car and drive from there back to Dayton. I was serious.  I felt as terrified as I had ever been.  A confidence built on a lifetime of carefree trips, winging all over the world without a thought for safety, had suddenly vanished.  It was to be a very long time before I could get on a plane without being far too nervous to enjoy it.  When my father retired in 1988, someone videotaped most of his final flight from LAX to ATL, and I saw for the first time what a landing looks like from the cockpit of a jumbo jet, and heard the voices of the ATC personnel counting down the distance to the ground. It was all much less fearful from that standpoint, and I began to relax a bit.  But the joy I had once felt in flying still did not return.

Perhaps it’s something to do with getting older, but my fear of airline travel has mostly subsided now.  I still avoid window seats, but recently on a flight to Atlanta, I ended up in one. It was a sunny beautiful day, and as we banked over the Potomac, the views of DC were breathtaking.  Grabbing my purse and fumbling for my camera, I felt annoyed with myself that I was not ready in time to photograph the Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington monuments from a rare and perfect perspective.

By the time we climbed over the clouds, though, the view was almost as arresting.  It’s pictured above in the surreal clarity I saw out my window for nearly half an hour, though the brilliant sunlight cannot truly be captured in a photograph.  Nobody else seemed to notice what I was seeing; they were all absorbed in their gadgets or books or naps. But I couldn’t take my eyes off the endless vista outside.

As happens occasionally in recent years, I was carried back in time briefly to my childhood, when the sky was my favorite place to be.  What normally felt like anxiety was transformed to wonder and excitement.  Maybe it was the bits of himself that Daddy left with us, coming together again and chasing away the fear and sadness with a childlike faith and joy in something that remains, even when I don’t realize it, an amazing gift that will never completely leave me.

Do you have any sources of anxiety that might be transformed to excitement if you could let go of fear?  What do we have to gain– or lose– from such a transformation?  How much exhilaration is present our every day, subdued by agitation or worry?

 

50 Comments

  1. Renee West

    This is transforming Julia. I will use some of your fearless and fearful words for this months SALISI sister call. We are encouraging one another on FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. You write from the heart about real life. It’s amazing!!

    • Hey there lady, I had no idea while we were talking on the phone today that this comment was in the queue. I love that acronym! Hey guess what – I figured out how I accidentally dialed you — I was using the upstairs phone and just hit redial not realizing I had switched phones mid-phone on the previous call so I could use speakerphone. Then I hit redial forgetting I had actually dialed the other phone. Apparently you were the last person I had called from that upstairs phone, I think it was the night Joyce died. In any case I still think it was providential — I found out some stuff from Jeff that makes the situation I discussed with you much less irksome and I’m glad you talked me out of my temper. 😀 More details later if you want them. 😀 but it was a case of FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL, hee-hee. Thanks for being here — online and at the other end of my telephone today!!!

  2. blseibel

    Wow what I story, I have never been on a flight that bad but I can imagine the feeling. I was in a rear end car accident once and for the longest time would cringe and glance back quickly whenever we had to stop in traffic so I can only imagine your anxiety would be great and take a long time to subside…I still glance back quickly but without the anxiety.

    I will take your thoughts to heart and try to turn my current anxiety (keep giving it to the Lord and then taking it back) into excitement for my new future …whatever God has for me must be an adventure to be excited about right?

    • Yes! See Rene’s acronym in the previous comment (FEAR = false evidence appearing real). Of course, sometimes fear is advisable and even necessary, but when we get that post-traumatic anxiety it really is something we need to work through. As far as giving things over to God and then taking them back…I think many of us have that problem. It’s understandable but the good part is, after being sustained through all sorts of things that I would not have thought I could survive, I am gradually learning to talk myself into trusting with my head even when my heart has a hard time following. I hope you have many reassuring sunbeams breaking through the clouds until you are able to feel the excitement of new possibilities.

  3. You share my feelings exactly. I felt your fear here as if I were there. I’ve flown all over the world and it’s the take offs and landings that always get me. I flew out of St. Louis once after the holidays and after several de-icings, we were allowed to take off. We were the last flight out that night because of conditions, The smell of the de-icing fluid is still with me. I don’t like to be on the road anymore as much and I hate to be a passenger. No controls there on my side other than the air brake.:) But I know that when it’s my time, there will be no way to hide from it and if it’s not, I try to enjoy the ride in spite of my fear. Have a great week.

    • Marlene, those takeoffs and landings are definitely the high-risk parts of the flight, and they are rightly the most tense times for us. But I HATE turbulence and storms when we are in the air, even though Daddy would reassure us that it was nothing to fear. Once a few years ago when I was about to be flying during a time in which a possible hurricane was forecast, I asked my father whether it would be safe to fly and he reminded me I’d probably be safer in a plane than on the ground, because aircraft (which go 600 mph regularly) are built to withstand winds of many times greater than hurricane force. That had never occurred to me. BTW I am probably as afraid or more afraid of riding in automobiles, especially if the driver has a lead foot. But as you say, we can’t live life in fear because none of us gets out of it alive anyway. We have a friend who went skydiving for her 70th birthday (or somewhere around that age — I know she had been a grandmother for many years). When people asked if she was afraid she said “No, because if anything happens, I know where I’m headed and I won’t have to clean up the mess.” After the skydiving I asked her about it and she said “Now I know why birds sing.” She loved it. I don’t plan ever to try it myself, so I was happy to hear about it from her.

      • I’m not going skydiving either. Nor do I want to ride with certain people. I had a bumper sticker (it was never actually on the car) that side never drive faster than your Angels can fly. I also have Angel pins in my car and ask for help when I’m on the road. I pray each time I get behind the wheel “please don’t let us hurt one another”. That applied to the animals too. I lived in an area where elk were always running in front of cars. Most people listen to the radio when they drive, I pray and listen for direction. Yes, I get it. But as my vision fades, I go out less. I’m letting my son do more of my driving and he was trained by the sheriff’s dept in LA to drive defensively. I’ve watched him be aware of 2 accidents before they happened and get completely out of the way. I’ll ride with him anywhere even though he drives fast.

        • Marlene, I’m with you regarding praying behind the wheel, and sometimes when it’s especially nerve-wracking, I have conversations with God out loud, with or without others in the car! I too pray for the safety people AND for animals– especially those animals who are too small to notice, or so large that a collision with them endangers the people in the vehicle almost as much as it does the animal. WOW, elk would have to top anything I’m likely to see crossing the street. It must have been fun to see them, even if it was dangerous! In our York neighborhood, I have occasionally been seen playing “crossing guard” for turtles when a car comes along while they’re ambling across the road! 😀

          My night vision is terrible so I avoid driving at night as much as I possibly can. Seriously– driving is so dangerous, and we forget that so easily. I have often reminded my son (the one who drives) that getting behind the wheel of a car is analogous to holding a loaded gun, in terms of how easily one can kill and maim others. Your son sounds like Jeff. He drives faster and follows more closely than I would, but his skill amazes me. He spots animals and other potential dangers long before I do, and even (most of the time) when I don’t seem them at all until we are zooming past. I’m happy to let him do all the driving, and he can’t stand to ride with me driving, so it works out well. 😉

          • I’m having to let my son do all my driving lately. My vision has gone in the bucket and I finally think we have come to a solution. I like to do my own driving as much as possible but I can’t drive far anymore. Maybe a 40 mile round trip on the highway. Hard to believe a few years ago I was driving the autobahn in Germany all over it. I drive fast and with a great deal of caution and we never tailgate. Unless it’s in LA. 🙂 It’s a requirement. :I

            • Marlene, no kidding about LA and tailgating! I think they have to require it so that at least 70% of the cars can be fitted onto the highway system at one time, bumper to bumper. Then it drags along just fast enough to be somewhat better than walking. They keep building miles and miles of it but there is never enough. Everytime we go back to LA I think to myself “WOW, I forgot how BAD the traffic is here!” Kind of like childbirth — it’s impossible to retain an accurate memory the enormity of it, which is probably an inborn defense mechanism!

              You won’t be surprised to know that the autobahn scares me, but probably it’s no worse than driving in San Antonio.

              • When my son left LA, he wanted to take a photograph of the 9 lanes of traffic ahead of him…stopped. They crawled along at a snails pace. Even our Portland traffic doesn’t bother him. So many people are moving here that the roads are jammed at times too. I have no problem with autobahn. It’s a straight line and the traffic is all going one way. It’s the small streets with cars shooting out of everywhere and signs I can’t read on city streets that throw me a curve. When I was there with my sister, I did the highway driving, she did the city driving. I can’t read a street sign to know where I am. 😦 I’ve driven all over the south up the coast to NJ when we lived there. I’ve white knuckled it to so many places but by the Grace of God, I always get there without anyone getting hurt. Now, I have to ask for rides. 😦

                • Marlene, it sounds as if you paid your dues in the driving category, so I hope you don’t feel too badly about asking for rides. Besides, you are in good company! As Ferris Bueller said (to the tune of the Beatles’ song “I am the Walrus” — “I could be the walrus, and I’d still have to bum rides.” 😀

  4. Jack

    At 56, the only thing that keeps me glued to the aisle seat and not the view from the window seat is a disinclination to disrupt my seatmates during my too frequent trips to the bathroom. Otherwise, I’m still a kid in a candy store, still full of awe and wonder and reverence for the view from skies. A quick and dirty calculation tells me I’ve circled the globe 150+ times over the last 26 years or so and while the airport experience has become tedious (with one notable exception, Love Field in Dallas, best of the best), the airplane one, turbulence and all, is still all joy.

    • Jack, I’m so happy to hear someone who still loves to fly and will admit it. Like everyone talking about being busy, it seems to have become fashionable to gripe about flying. Admittedly it’s not anything like what it was 40 years ago, but it’s still amazing to me. The best part is definitely in the sky, but I even have fond memories of airports. I remember the days when everyone would go to the gates to bid people Bon Voyage or to welcome them arriving. When I worked the gate I always felt that the entire spectrum of human emotions was on display there. People going to weddings, funerals, graduations, to see new grandchildren or bid goodbye to service people being deployed overseas, sick children with bald heads traveling to and from St. Jude’s for cancer treatments (I worked in Memphis for USAIR) — many tears, extreme joy, grief, sorrow, frustration, anger, compassion, fear, excitement, boredom, contentment, just to name a few. I’ve never circled the globe at all, but I hope that someday I will! Perhaps your travel experiences have been a sort of reward granted to you for having your eyes and heart open to value them and realize what a blessing they are. BTW did you ever fly on the Concorde? I always wished I had tried it just once while I had the chance.

      • What an extraordinary post, Julia. I’m enjoying all the comments as well.

        I like the idea of flying, more than the actual event as I tend to suffer from motion sickness. The same is true on boats and the back seat of a car. I like driving even less, though, so I’m always willing to fly to arrive at my destination. I’ve flown as far as Europe, but never covered the distance that Pauline did to join us in D.C. That’s a long, long time in the air.

        I had one horrible flight over New Orleans heading into a storm. I was curled into the fetal position, willing myself not to throw up. In the end, the flight had to turn around and go back where we started. I arrived at my destination about eight hours late.

        • Alys, I admire you for pressing on through the motion sickness. I’ve never had it, but one of Matt’s occupational therapists explained to me that it can actually be a healthy sign; that people who never, ever get it may have some dysfunction with their proprioceptive system. Given my clumsiness and a few other traits, it seems likely in my case. But I digress…

          I do so admire Pauline for having the courage to pack up and fly halfway round the globe to meet people she knew only online. How ironic that she then wound up waiting an addition hour more while K and I ran all over the airport looking for her, when all the while she was just outside! It’s funny to remember now, but it didn’t seem so at the time. I’m so glad she was willing to brave the many sleepless hours to grace us with her company!

      • Jack

        Never the Concorde, the businesses I’ve always worked for were far too cheap to shell out that kind of money. Plus I don’t think it ever flew from Atlanta, my jumping off point about 99% of the time.

        And the honest to goodness truth is that at least east bound, I was never in all that big a hurry! West bound was usually home so that’s a different story

        • We were offered a special non-rev fare of $200 for a Concorde flight, but believe it or not, that sounded to expensive to me…especially compared to “free.” Plus, I told myself I would do it in the future when we had more money. It never occurred to me that the Concorde had no future. ATL is not a bad jumping off point. I don’t particularly like the layout of the new airport, but I suppose it’s efficient in terms of parking planes. I still miss the old aqua terminal building, and the days when each gate was a separate room.

      • Mike Bertoglio

        My last couple of posts did not make it?

        • Mike, I hope they did make it; check and let me know. Most likely it’s my fault, because I have been so blindsided this week by unexpected complications and demands, that I have been unable to do much of anything and have gotten woefully behind on this blog. Having said that, I’ve had lots of problems trying to post to other blogs myself. In my case it seems to be a browser problem, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. Hang in there and keep trying. My comments are moderated (to prevent spam, trolls, commercials etc.) so they don’t show up until I get around to reading them. I really appreciate those of you who take the time to comment and have the patience to wait on me to read them. I value and read each and every comment.

  5. Michael

    I read recently the book, ” Flight 271″ about one of the final DC-10 trips from where to where I can’t exactly recall. This was also made into a movie with Charleston Heston as lead pilot. The engine fan blades exploded and took out all hydraulics. One out of three did not live to tell. The plane porpoised for many many miles up and down and landed at something like 220 MPH. It is a harrowing story with many vignettes of courage and compassion including the stewardesses, one was left dangling upside down after the plane flipped over. She was a true hero staying in the plane helping many out who may have suffered worse fates.
    As I ponder my up coming trip in February to Atlanta, I pray my anxiety may be transformed into excitement. However I do take the aisle seats now. Music seems to help and I have my I-pod. My mom hated to fly and always had a thermos of orange juice- “Mimosas” which she would take on the plane with her. Not sure that would work now.

    • Michael, I wish you an uneventful trip to Atlanta. Just keep those beautiful granddaughters in mind and that should make it all worthwhile. BTW I find Sodoku helps me more than anything. I’m not sure why it does, but it’s so effective that flying is the only time I allow myself to work them. My mind travels to some alternate, danger-free universe while I am studying those rows of numbers. I did spend a few hours on them during Jeff’s hospital times as well.

      You might enjoy reading Captain Sully’s book “Highest Duty.” It’s an excellent inside view of the cockpit, especially during “The Miracle on the Hudson,” and because he is understated and not melodramatic in the least, it’s somehow more credible than if he turned it into just another “There I was…” story. I have great respect for him; he has gone on to do so many wonderful things in public service, including raising awareness of mental health issues by speaking out about what he and other survivors went through after the crash.

  6. Julia,
    Very understandable that you would have, even a temporary, fear of flying after such an experience. Many years ago I was on a fight from NYC to LA when the plane developed engine trouble. We had to dump fuel in flight before a stop over in Chicago to replace the bad part. The had to take the same plane to LA. While taking off all went silent and the plane began to veer over. After passengers shared looks of controlled concern the power picked up and we made it to LA safely.

    “For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for thee.”
    We all think its going to happen to the other guy, until the other guy is me. But fear can be worse than the worse things, because it cheats us out of living a good life to the fullest.

    That’s what Christmas is all about. Hope is fulfilled, faith vindicated and fear vanquished. We are freed to live a life of everlasting joy. All the gift of a loving God.
    -Alan

    • Alan, thanks for sharing those experiences and especially for ending on a note of hope and cheer! You are so right that we always think it’s going to happen to someone else, but not to us. Then when it does hit us, sometimes we need to learn how to push past the generalized anxiety that starts to color every aspect of life to the point that it cheats us, as you say. When our delusional notions about what constitutes security are shattered, we can be free to discover those eternal truths that really do set us free. Hope you are enjoying the season!

      • Thank you, Julia for your wise comment. I am, and hope you are enjoying the season also.
        -Alanb

        • Thank you Alan. I’m enjoying at much as is possible under the circumstances. There are lots of non-Christmas related bureaucratic-nonsense-style paperwork issues going on right now, and otherdecidedly UNcheery happenings, but it’s almost impossible to blot out the joy I feel at Christmas each year. As Dr. Seuss famously said, “[This] hasn’t stopped Christmas from coming — it came! Somehow or other, it came just the same!” 😀

          • Underneath all the hectic happenings of the season and the unending madness in the world is the reason for the season. That is why Jesus was born in a cave and not in an inn. For He is not some part of the world. He is its foundation.
            -Alan

            • Yes, and the more one considers the phrase “Emmanuel – God with us,” the more profound it becomes.

  7. I’ve only flown 6-10 times in my life, most during my 4 year enlistment in the Air Force. I flew over Mt Fuji in Japan on one flight and will never forget that majestic view. On another cross country flight for my job interview with Intel Corporation I got to see all of Oregon from a window seat. Most of it is wilderness and all of it is mountains.

    My recent cross country flight to Massachusetts was a redeye so I couldn’t see anything. I had an aisle seat as punishment for buying a discounted ticket from Priceline. United was my carrier and let it be known they were not happy about failing to get the full price. It was very uncomfortable for the 5 hour flight.

    • Wow, Bob, the sight of Mt. Fuji must have been the vision of a lifetime! I wonder if I will ever get to see it? Probably not, but it’s fun to imagine and look at the photos. I bet Oregon was gorgeous too. I was very upset when our train trip through Oregon was turned to a bus trip at Klamath Falls, because of a de-railed train on the tracks ahead of us. But even from that standpoint it was lovely. I laughed when you said you were punished for using Priceline, but I don’t doubt it. Kind of like Ryan Air forcing us to listen to commercials the entire flight in exchange for a cheap fare. I guess you can always imagine what it was like to cross the country in a covered wagon and remind yourself it’s all relative!

      • I drove 1,000 miles to Orlando to see Disney with 2 teens, a boy and a girls fighting each other every mile. “Mom. Bret’s breathing my air”!

        • Bob, I realize that it was probably NOT funny at the time, but this certainly made me smile. I can remember a preacher telling us a story about how his younger son asked him to spank the older daughter “because she is looking at me funny.” Siblings can find odd things to resent! Come to think of it, people don’t have to be siblings to do that…but it’s more common to be confined in small spaces with siblings. 😀

  8. Sheila

    Julia, I really don’t what happened to the FIVE MINUTES since I read this Monday morning. These December days are going really fast! I was going to comment about our flight home from California, the day after the Paris massacre. That seemed a different anxiety that we sensed in so many, even the stewardesses. I really think airports have a feel of excitement, with all the arrivals and departures, so many scenarios. We had a funny experience last year returning from Houston, flying on the same flight as Bill’s brother and wife. We were boarding, when our sister-in-law was told Mrs. Vann (with that pass) was already on the plane. Not only was SHE on the plane, but SHE was in first class sipping a Bloody Mary. They addressed it, and figured out the problem. I was next, another “Mrs. Vann”. This can’t be happening, right? I’m sure they’ve seen it all! I know worry adds very little to our days, but I have a hard time letting it go. Your post is wonderful, as are you! 💛😉

    • Sheila, that must have been terribly hard to be flying the day after all that violence in Paris. I’m glad you’re home safe and sound. 🙂 You and your sister in law can dream up some new forms of mischief on your next trip together…sort of a variation of “Who’s on first?” Reminds me of the time my uncle was about to have surgery and his (amazingly look-alike) twin brother had gone to visit him and walked out of the room in his suit…the nurse walking toward him scolded “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU GET BACK IN THAT BED!!” 😀

      Honestly, I envy that your week passed in five minutes…this has been a terribly tough one for us. It reminds me of the old joke “I told myself, cheer up, things could be worse. So I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.” It’s been a barrage of trouble from many directions, but we’re hoping for a reprieve on at least one or two fronts SOON…Please, Lord, SOON! Meanwhile, I’m hopping in the bath and taking my exhausted brain to CLUB VERANDAH…pass me that Bloody Ma— uh, I mean, that hot decaf tea! ❤

      • Sheila

        Julia, we were seated in the exit row and had a very friendly stewardess seated with us, between serving. She shared with us that all flight employees had received a memo to advise emergency contacts or next of kin of all their pertinent information that morning before take off. Certainly a stress factor there!

        • Wow, not exactly geared to make one look forward to the work day. It’s amazing and affirming that life goes on and people are brave enough to show up for it, day after day.

  9. Mike Bertoglio

    I am more like Jack at this point hugging the side aisle for the same reasons, without the awe and reverence. But when I look at the GPS and see 42 hours of driving to Atlanta- I will take the gamble.
    A fun book I am reading is ” Boys in the Boat”: about the 1936 crew team from Seattle that won the gold medal. They travelled by train to Manhattan and then rode the SS Manhattan for the seven day journey to England. A great glimpse into history and the emerging Nazi regime, which was hidden to the general public and the Olympians during the festivities.

    • Mike, that does sound like a good book. I just recently finished reading 14 Carnations and it was quite an eye-opener about the widespread acceptance of the Nazis. Everything is so much more clear in hindsight. Terrifying to think about it and wonder what we are accepting today that history will shudder to recall (assuming the world survives at all). You’re right, 42 hours of driving does throw the whole question of flying into a different category. We drove across the country for military moves a few times, and when we went by the southernmost route, it seemed that half the entire drive took place in Texas. From Texarkana to El Paso is a mind-boggling distance!

  10. Dear Julia, I am so sorry that that one particular flight so dampened your enthusiasm for flying.
    I remember a long-ago flight with my kids on a tiny plane from Portland, ME to Boston on one of those one-seat-on-each-side-of-the-aisle planes. We hit some turbulence and the kids started making noise: “whee!” “yippee!” and such. The other passengers were stoic in withholding their moans and groans, and the pilots even glanced back down the aisle from the cockpit (maybe they thought the kids were just kidding?) So in one way, it was a delightful flight – all thanks to perspective! (And we didn’t even have to pay extra!)

    • Susan, this is a PERFECT example of how having the right attitude can transform something. I suppose we could say to ourselves “Hey, I’d pay big bucks and wait in a long line at Six Flags to get this kind of ride for only two or three minutes! Plus I wouldn’t even get to go anywhere in the process!” I’ll remember this story if I’m ever on a roller-coaster airplane ride again.

  11. I think somehow we’ve had very similar experiences of late. Your writing, as always, draws me in and has me nodding and mentally saying, “yes!, me too” I think we did talk about the fear of flying when I visited last spring. In my head, I know how safe it is, but also have always avoided the window seats. But returning from San Jose this October, I was in a very small plane I had no choice of seeing out the windows in either direction. After fumbling for my camera I took a number of stunning photo’s, and lived to tell about it of course. I know you really be missing your Dad. He’s with you everyday xo Beautiful written J xo K

    • Thanks, K — I always get a big kick out of finding out that I’ve written anything that anyone else can identify with. I know I feel so comforted when I read something another writer says and think to myself “Hey, I’m not the only one!” Did you know that I totally avoid small planes? I won’t fly on a regional carrier, so you are more brave than I am. I can only remember one time I went up in a smaller plane in which it wasn’t either my Daddy or my brother at the controls, and even then, Daddy was with us (it was a TransTexas Airways flight from Dallas to Laredo, Texas, many years ago — around 1971 I think — and Mama got more than a little nervous when the ticket counter agent, gate agent and ramp service man were all the same person. She said “if that guy crawls into the cockpit, I’m out.”) 🙂 Speaking of which, yes, I do miss Daddy but as you say, I also feel his presence every day. People we love and people who love us never really leave our lives, do they?

      • I laughed about your mothers story in ’71. That was exactly my experience on my flight home. The lady at the check in counter also was at the podium leading down to the plane (no ramp, just walked across the tarmac and up the stairs) I even said to her, “wow, you’re everywhere today” and she laughed. I would have second thoughts too if she was the pilot, LOL too fun.

        As for our Dads and others we love and miss, “true that”. They’re with us forever xoxoxo k

        • Thanks K, isn’t it fun to know some things never change? Whoa, I would REALLY get nervous about flying over the mountains in that situation…with Texas so flat, it’s much easier to find a force landing field when you need one! Glad you made it through safe and sound.

          Yes, some gifts– such as the love of family and friends– stay with us forever, and get even more valuable over time. What a happy thing to think on this Christmas season!

  12. Mike Bertoglio

    I see my comments did show up -though at the time I thought they were lost in the ether. I am also waiting for Doerr’s “Shell Collector” after I read his other work, “The things that silence….”
    During the Olympics, the Washington rowers could see a yellow tinged wall being constructed a couple miles from “Kopicken.” (sp). This would become the concentration camp that most of the local Gypsies, indigent, Northern Jews and Jehovah Witnesses were sent to.
    Verie is quite a Sudoku enthusiast, but I just never caught on.

    • I had not heard of that book but it looks interesting. I have an audio copy of his All The Light We Cannot See but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      Re: what the Olympic athletes saw — Drew said one of the things that haunted him most when we visited Dachau, is looking at where the camp was situated and feeling bewildered that so many people could have honestly not realized what was happening there behind those walls. But sometimes, as the famous movie line goes, we cannot handle the truth. Inside Dachau the museum has some exhibits that tell truly inspiring stories, including one about how the Jehovah’s Witnesses gave their food to other prisoners and behaved generally in selfless and exemplary ways. I told myself I’d think twice the next time I was tempted to make a snarky comment about them ringing my doorbell wanting to give me pamphlets. Despite the museum’s attempt to include some less-depressing memories, though, it’s a tough place to be. After an hour or so, Jeff said he couldn’t take reading any more of it, and he just sat quietly with Matt while Drew and I toured the rest of the grounds and the buildings and memorials. We will do well never to forget how inhumane people can be. The words “Never Again” on display at the Holocaust Museum in DC capture the lesson quite eloquently.

  13. Rene

    Riding on the back of the motorcycle terrifies me, but my husband loves to have with him (and he bought a bigger, sturdier-appearing Goldwing so I would), so I take a deep breath & do it. When I was young, I dreamed of riding behind a boyfriend; I keep hoping I’ll get that unconcerned confidence back. Last week, I had to ride behind my 21-year old son (really long story, go ahead & laugh). I didn’t fall off on the corners, so all is good.

    • Rene, I’m proud of you for having the courage to share that with your husband. Just remember, now he’s that boyfriend you dreamed of. 😀 I’d like to think I’d do the same for Jeff, but let’s just say I’m lucky I don’t have to follow through on that particular challenge. Who knows, you may one day be an avid rider with a bike of your own. I have many friends who could heartily recommend it!

  14. Michael

    There could be a sequel, ” All the things we cannot hear.”
    I wonder if the refugee situation- Syrians etc.– has an echo here and we are letting things take place In our midst that may come back to haunt us, i.e. Dachau.?

    • Oh, yes, and I think that could be true on many levels and in many different directions. Of course, it could be argued with some validity that we are not “letting” anything happen; that what is happening is truly beyond our control, and though we do what we can to change or improve the circumstances, we should not fall prey to attempts to manipulate our own good will by convincing us that we are responsible for conduct that truly has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with malice and evil in other hearts.

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