Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Failed Wheel Flaps and Quick Landings


I've spent a lifetime learning to take moments one by one and to truly appreciate every single one of them. I've learned that its the unexpected happenings and the things which challenge us the very most, that are the very things that also carry the most opportunity for growth and change.

I've learned to make the most of constant chaos, and a lot of repetitiveness of lessons not quite learned; and so, when unexpected things happen now, I almost do expect them. Not, in some horrible negative way....but just as how things can be and how in the deepest sense (known to many of us who have faced trauma and chaos) that the short pattern to spiritual understandings is often the fast path of earthly occurrences.

I'd warned everyone that for whatever reason, if things can go wrong at airports and airplanes they do with me...not as a self-fulfilling prophecy.... but because I learn so much from all of those experiences that perhaps they just help t shorten my path to enlightenment, even more rapidly. My last flight up, I'd been taken off three separate airplanes for failed instrument lights and put on other, also failed instrument panel airplanes! My simple 5 1/2 hour trip ended up taking me over 15 hours. So, I always warn family that don't be surprised if I don't call as early as you expect. Things just seem to happen when I'm involved!

As I left my beloved Alaska, tears in my eyes, parents sitting there next to one of my brothers in the waiting area, I expected my usual security gaffs as tiny metal objects set off hyper sensitive systems with the knowledge that I, myself, am just a hyper sensitive system of another type ;)

As we flew over Alaska, then Canada, and then in view of Seattle, I could see the mountains, the valleys, the rivers and the beautiful islands...but I could also see the Space Needle and downtown Seattle quickly fade from site. I knew we were not circling back and something had to be very wrong.

After more than an hour of additional air time and no announcement from pilot, co-pilot or attendants, I knew for a fact that something had to be wrong! Eventually, the pilot announces...

"By now, you've probably figured out that things aren't going quite as planned up here. We're having some difficulties getting our wheel flaps down. You've had a tour of south Seattle while we decided what we should do and we have determined that we will begin descent now. We are expecting a normal landing, but we will be coming in at a much faster speed of descent then most of you are used to. Please be sure there are no loose objects anywhere around you and that your seat belts are securely fastened. Also, we will be met by fire trucks as an additional precaution. Thank you for your patience."

Our patience???? OK. Time to go into my center, seek a place of calm, reflect on my entire life, and ponder life and death and the meaning of both, and pray an awful lot all at once ;) " A faster rate of descent than most of you are used to" translates as a huge roaring sound, very intense airplane vibration, your stomach going up into your mouth and your hands gripping the armrests and absolutely, total silence in the entire plane. I think we were too scared to spit, much less talk!

Needless to say, we landed safely and to the total applause of the passengers. The sight of 4 fire trucks and a Fire Marshall meeting our plane on the ground certainly added a bit to the drama of failed wheel flaps and quick landings!!!!