Instrument approach

runway-lights“United 315, you are cleared to land runway 18R, winds 135 at 10 knots. Follow company traffic ahead on short final, report runway in sight.”

As I press my forehead against the window pane of seat 22F, I hear this radio transmission between the cockpit and Orlando tower through my headphones. I see nothing out the window but the pulsating navigation lights coming from the wingtips of the Airbus A320 aircraft. Like a rotating lighthouse beacon, I hold hope that this light has the power to cut through the fog outside like a knife through hot butter. Or at the very least, alert other aircraft in the area that we own this space for the next five minutes until we are safely on the ground and taxiing towards the gate.

It is always somewhat disconcerting to travel in darkness. Couple that with fog thicker than pea soup and you have an instant recipe for anxiety. As my eyes wander around the cabin, fellow passengers have their heads buried in puzzle books, novels, or newspapers as the flying machine we have put our faith in bounces through the turbulent air outside, bound for the welcoming row of runway lights that signify our destination.

Perhaps it’s the remnants of a memory from long ago that puts me on edge. Or maybe it’s the caffeine from the complimentary coffee served earlier on this flight from Houston to Orlando. Either way, my senses are alert, anticipating the unexpected.

The mood and demeanor in the cockpit, of course, is completely different. Armed with the instruments to navigate safely to our destination, the pilot and co-pilot are bringing the aircraft closer to the ground with every passing second. Without being able to see it.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Each day of our life is similar to an airline flight. Some days we see nothing but sunshine as we soar above the clouds while viewing the magnificence of the world around us in all its beauty. Other days, we are left to navigate around pesky cumulonimbus clouds that threaten us with storms that we must weather. And on those really challenging days, we are stuck in fog so thick that we hyperventilate with anxiety. We are unsure of which direction to navigate. Will we find clear skies ahead? Or, will we be mired in the muck for what seems like an eternity?

This is where our own instruments come in handy. Just as an aircraft has instruments built into its core, we carry analogous tools as human beings. Heart. Soul. Intuition. Faith. We may not always know what the future holds, but we can choose to summon courage, to step forth into the darkness, confident that the rising sun is just over the horizon.

believe-in-wonderfulAs our aircraft descends through 500 feet above ground level, the twinkling lights from the civilization below magically appear and wave to greet us. As the wheels touchdown and the reverse thrusters engage, I acknowledge the faith I have entrusted in the people and machine that have returned me home safely. I am reminded to carry the same faith inside when it comes to making those seemingly blind decisions in the fog of our everyday lives.

As we taxi off the runway, I reach for the headphones on my ears. I pause momentarily as I listen to one last radio transmission, “Southwest 2007, cleared to land runway 18R, Airbus A320 exiting the runway.” The aircraft behind us is on final approach. As I think about the potentially restless passengers on that flight, I send a silent thought through the cosmos. Have faith my friend and you will get where you need to be.


17 thoughts on “Instrument approach

  1. MRS N, the Author October 22, 2013 / 11:26 am

    Brilliant post and it clearly illustrates for me the faith and trusting in the Light within. It guides me on a path that is true. Like in an airplane, so many things can go wrong and sometimes do. The real test is always in how we react in those times.

    Glad you didn’t run into trouble in the air and got home safely, Dave! Have a beautiful sunny day! 🙂

    • davecenker October 22, 2013 / 12:03 pm

      Thanks Mrs. N 😉 You are so right that there is a guiding light inside just waiting to cut through the deepest darkness if and when we allow it to!

      Best wishes for an inspired day! 🙂

      • MRS N, the Author October 22, 2013 / 12:05 pm

        Exactly! Think about it this way, When You walk into a dark room and turn on a light, the darkness flees and the room is flooded with light! 🙂 The darkness has no alternative but to disappear. 🙂 Stay inspired! 🙂

  2. apartmentwife October 22, 2013 / 12:24 pm

    this post is wonderful for 1/2 a dozen reasons, but mainly because 1) you make a perfect analogy for believing the dots will connect down the road (even when you can’t see that road) 2) i love the writing (winkling lights from the civilization below magically appear and wave to greet us) 3) a wonderful message to wish the best for others 🙂

    • davecenker October 22, 2013 / 2:37 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Jen 😉 I really appreciate your keen insight and expanding my analogy even further than I originally imagined. I had been thinking about taking one step after another in sequential fashion. But, as you so aptly recognized, we can take lots of different steps that leave dots scattered all over the place. Over time, those dots will find a way to connect themselves in a meaningful way. That’s awesome stuff, thanks for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day 🙂

  3. Amy Lynne Hayes October 23, 2013 / 9:05 am

    Love the analogy you create here! It’s one I think everyone can relate to, both in the sense of confusion in life and anxiety while flying. Most times the hardest part is accepting that something is out of your control and you just have to have faith, in others, in the situation, in the cosmos, that it will all work out. Just the same as we have to acknowledge that we have no influence whatsoever as to whether or not that plane lands safely. It’s scary, but there’s no avoiding that. 🙂

    • davecenker October 23, 2013 / 9:14 am

      Thank you for your thoughtful insights Amy! They are always appreciated very much 😉 We have a choice to step into the unknown. That takes courage. But, you are right. Perhaps what takes more courage is trusting in the cosmos to provide the remaining ingredients to the recipe.

      This reminds me of another quote the fits well into this thought process:

      “When you come to the edge of all the light that you have, when you take that next step, either you’ll find solid ground, or you’ll learn how to fly.”

      • Amy Lynne Hayes October 23, 2013 / 9:20 am

        Excellent quote!! Very appropriate. 😊

  4. MarquitaHerald (@MarquitaHerald) October 23, 2013 / 6:11 pm

    Wonderful article Dave! But I have to tell you I experienced a very uncomfortable flashback while reading it. In 1982 I was still living on an airplane in my job representing the Hawaii travel industry. I flew into National Airport 2 days after the Air Florida flight crashed into the Potomac killing 78 people. I remember the approach over that river like it was yesterday trying to pretend I wasn’t thinking about the recovery operation still going on below me just when a little girl sitting next to me asked if I would mind holding her hand. Ha! Not sure who was more comforted by that – her or me. 🙂

    • davecenker October 24, 2013 / 8:21 am

      It sounds as though that little girl was introduced to you at exactly the right time for both of you. It is never easy to have those uncomfortable flashbacks occur (I have had them occur in the same type of situation while flying). But, it is in acknowledging that you made it through that sometimes helps surmount the next obstacle in our path. Thanks for sharing Marty! I always appreciate your comments. Best wishes for an inspired day (with more positive flashbacks) 😉

  5. joannesisco October 24, 2013 / 8:06 am

    I loved the post. I loved all the comments. An uplifting way to start my day! Many thanks.

    • davecenker October 24, 2013 / 8:22 am

      Thank you Joanne, I am happy that you enjoyed it and appreciate you stopping by to leave your thoughts! Best wishes for an inspired day 😉

  6. Salee Reese October 24, 2013 / 7:54 pm

    I so love the analogy. As for the “tools,” I noticed there was no mention of the brain or logic and all that. (good!) The brain does a poor job of navigating, in fact, it gets in the way.
    I took some time to flow through your blog. I thought I’d make a quick pass, but that didn’t happen. I kept getting captured by gem after gem.

    • davecenker October 25, 2013 / 8:30 am

      Thank you for your very kind comments Salee! I am happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit to my small corner of the blogosphere. It is probably the highest compliment I could receive 😉

      Although I didn’t purposely leave the brain out of the tools equation, I am sure that my subconscious mind helped facilitate the words that ultimately survived the “malicious” attempts of the conscious mind 😉

      As an engineer by day (for now, at least) my mind is constantly waging a battle between logic and intuition. I am happy to see that the writing process is helping my intuition grab the advantage 😉

      Thanks again for stopping by and best wishes for an inspired day!

  7. Salee Reese October 27, 2013 / 10:38 pm

    Please check out my Oct 28 post! It’s one more twist on this expectation theme. I’m interested in what your take is!

  8. alyssamichellefrench October 30, 2013 / 4:36 pm

    Dave, once again you’ve given us a spectacularly written, completely relatable, and marvelously wise post to enjoy! You relate airplane flights and life in such an effortless and meaningful way that has me not only soaring through the clouds right along with you, but also thinking of the areas in my life where I need to have faith, and trust that even though I can’t see the entire runway, it’ll all be okay. I think in life it’s so often tempting to wish that we knew how everything was going to turn out. But when you really think about it, if we knew the rest of our story, what would be the point of living it? It’s so much more fun and important to focus on the present and to go through every twist and turn without an end result in sight. Thank you for providing us with this reminder to enjoy the journey(: Have a wonderful day!

    • davecenker October 31, 2013 / 9:19 am

      Beautiful words Alyssa which convey my feelings better than my original thoughts 😉 Although the path along our journey may not be all clear skies and smooth air, knowing that we are able to summon the fortitude to overcome these challenges make those moments of sunshine peeking through the clouds all that much sweeter 😉

      Thank you for taking the time to provide such poignant, meaningful, and heartfelt insights. I always appreciate your elegant use of words to convey a message in just the right way 🙂

      Best wishes for an inspired day!

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