Since I can remember, I have always loved and appreciated anything with wings – birds, butterflies, and especially airplanes; anything to do with aviation. As a small boy growing up in a rural farming area, finding feathers and collecting them was special to me. It connected me to the magic that made the birds soaring above me swoop and fly in graceful circles.
It was with this feeling of joy and amazement of flying creatures that I eventually decided to become an aircraft technician after I had completed college. I was always fascinated with the systems that made airplanes work and I enjoyed working with my hands in a team environment. Even though I was leaving the mental health field that I had gone to university for, there was something that brought me back to my childhood and told me that aviation was indeed my calling.
Not surprisingly, everything about aircraft maintenance school was fun and fascinating for me, and I really ate it up, learning about how airplanes are built and all the complex systems that make them work. I received excellent grades and graduated while having fun along the way. What this taught me was that when we follow our heart and trust that it is guiding us appropriately, things tend to fall into place and flow without effort, whereas when we go into doubt or fear about what might happen if we do make that heart-based decision, then things do not tend to align or fall into place naturally, as they otherwise would.
After getting the opportunity to work on all kinds of airplanes from small single-engine trainers, to turboprops and corporate jets, all the way up to large Boeing commercial airliners, I have come to some interesting observations. During that time, I was involved in various structural repairs and working on all kinds of aircraft systems that make the whole body of the airplane work. This brought me to the realisation that all airplanes are designed and manufactured in a way that is in a direct correlation to the way the human body is designed and functions.
For instance, the main structure of almost all airplanes is made up of aluminum frames (that wrap around the fuselage), stringers (that run the length of the fuselage), spars that support the wings and tail (they even call the main wing supports ‘ribs’), and metallic or composite skins that cover the wings, fuselage and tail sections, tying the whole structure together aerodynamically. To me this is obviously synonymous to the human skeletal system. There is even insulation that is placed in between these structural members of the fuselage that reminds me of the connective tissue of the human body that wraps around all our internal organs and muscular system. Speaking of muscles, all the hydraulic actuators that move the flight controls and landing gear/brakes are just like the muscles in our body moving our body parts, with the hydraulic fluid and lines in the airplane being like the blood and vascular system we have to move those muscles.
Another observation I have had is that the engines of an airplane are symbolic of the human heart, as they are the driving force that propels the airplane forward and everything else would come to a grinding halt without those engines turning out their incredible power, just as the human heart is the foundation that transfers the energy for everything else to work in the human body. Crawling inside the avionics bay the other day – with its myriad of electronics control modules and miles of wiring wrapping all around to all these black boxes that work their magic to control the navigational, control, and communications systems – made me realise how those control computers are like the various modules within the human brain (like the occipital lobe associated with sight and the temporal lobe with auditory functions, etc.), with all those wires being the nervous system of the aircraft, sending the signals out to make those functions happen in a coordinated and harmonious fashion.
Another thing that I have noticed while working on long term aircraft maintenance projects with a team of mechanics is that the times that strange problems pop up with the airplane – like a hydraulic line suddenly leaking or an autopilot controller failing even though it tested fine five minutes ago – is that these events seem to mirror the state of well-being and level of harmony within the team. It’s as if the airplane’s state of well-being is directly proportional to that of the crew working on it. On several occasions I have witnessed weird things happening in conjunction with internal struggles and emotional angst being displayed by the crew. I don’t feel it is a coincidence at all anymore.
Anyone who has had their personal computer crash on them right when they were stressing out about something could attest to what I am proposing here. It’s all about the energy that we put out that has an effect on electrical and mechanical devices around us. Comparatively, when we have been working in brotherhood and supporting each other without any competition or games being played, the work seems to flow better and the plane develops fewer problems.
Considering the relationships between airplanes and the human body that I have proposed above, sometimes I consider myself an airplane doctor, performing various intricate and delicate surgeries on its structure and systems, removing and replacing damaged components or removing corrosion (which is like a cancer for metal), and diagnosing and troubleshooting certain failures that do not have an obvious cause, as well as administering general preventive maintenance and servicing, such as cleaning areas that lead to corrosion, replenishing engine oils and hydraulic fluid, checking pressures and performing functional checks, etc. The tests that we do are synonymous with the many tests that people do in the medical field, such as blood work and CAT scans, physiotherapy range of motion and strength tests (similar to flight control travel checks), and many others.
For me, airplanes are incredible machines in the way that they can connect and bring together people from all over the planet and make our world feel smaller and more united, seeing that in the end we are all really the same no matter which country we are from. I love the feeling of working together with a team to put back together a huge airliner after a two-month heavy maintenance visit, appreciating the thousands of tasks my fellow mechanics have accomplished. It never ceases to amaze me as we watch this massive machine magically lift into the blue sky, knowing all the work and pieces of the puzzle that had to come together harmoniously to make it happen. It’s in these moments that I am reminded why I love airplanes so much.
A little girl innocently walks up to a man sitting quietly on a bench in the park as she has chased a butterfly that landed next to him and she asks him if he noticed it too. But chasing behind her is her mother who, after a sheepish smile to the man takes the little girl’s hand and walks away with her, whispering that it was not safe to do what she did because that man is a stranger and “We don’t know him, so he could be dangerous,” asking her to never do that again.
Moving back to the original example of the child approaching the ‘stranger’ in the first paragraph. It is this gorgeous openness and willingness to connect with others in a tender way that is so innate in children that we are threatening when we impose an image of anyone outside our family as a possible danger to us. Imagine the difference it would have made for that man sitting on the bench if he would have been able to share that magic moment with the little girl of a butterfly landing right next to him, feeling safe enough himself to do so, a reflection of his own knowingness that the ‘stranger’ was not a threat, instead of what transpired above, leaving the gentleman wondering, “Do I really look that scary?” or “I wonder what’s wrong with me that the mother felt to rush her daughter away from me like that?”
There have been countless times where I have struck up a conversation with one of these ‘strangers’ at the local tea shop, in the grocery store, or even in the lobby at the garage waiting for my car to be fixed and have experienced some really touching and expansive conversations that left me feeling so much more connected to people and trusting that at our core we all have so much love to be shared with each other when we let down our guards and allow ourselves to feel it.
I imagine most people have at some point heard someone say that ‘hindsight is 20/20’ after an event that typically left someone feeling a certain level of guilt, shame, remorse or desire that whatever unfolded would have ended with a different result. The phrase denotes a sense that once we experience the outplay of a life event that may have resulted in something we did not necessarily want to happen (like an accident or mistake), it is easy to look back in time, so to speak, and understand all the factors and decisions that led up to that negative experience occurring, hence the 20/20 perfect vision connotation.
But I have noticed a repetitive pattern, and thus a correlation between the times that I have had these ‘hindsight is 20/20’ moments, where I felt awful about something that happened and that I was responsible for, and my initial negative emotional reactions to someone or a previously unforeseen circumstance that life presented to me. It’s as if these reactions that were based on things like doubt, fear of judgment from others, lack of self-worth or low confidence set off a chain reaction (pun intended) of events that culminated in my having those ‘could have, should have, and would have’ moments as an end result.
The dictionary definition that I found for foresight is:
the ability to predict what will happen or be needed in the future – Lexico.com (1).
Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to be Nostradamus here and predict the future (although I do feel we all have had instances of feeling and knowing what was about to happen, as in a friend calling on the phone right after they popped into your mind), but that we definitely can all feel what is needed in a given situation and begin to let go of the emotionally and eventual physically damaging practice of looking back on life’s events or mistakes in a regretful way that ignores the possibility that what unfolded in that instance was exactly what we needed as a reflection of where we were at in our own personal development, and offered a great lesson that we could utilise and pass on to others for the rest of our lives.
I know for myself that every time I went over in my head something yucky that happened in my life – as if I could somehow change the past outcome with sheer willpower and repeated thoughts – it only resulted in a lot of stress, was exhausting, and did not help or change anything. For to truly value all that life presents for us, as being held by a divine love that is guiding us back to a more soulful way, is quite liberating indeed. It’s in these lived experiences where true wisdom is born.
Something occurred to me the other day when I noticed the U.S. flag was at ‘half-mast’ at my workplace after yet another mass shooting that occurred here in the States. We use this tradition to honour the victims of various acts of violence or natural disasters/accidents who live in our own country, and yet we don’t bat an eye and maintain this tradition when the same type of tragedies happen in other countries.
To me, due to the levels of violence, corruption, domestic abuse, wars, famine, illness and disease that currently exist on Earth, every nation should be flying their flags at half-mast if they truly want to honour that tradition until all these issues are healed throughout the world.
This is not to say that we should go around trying to fix everyone else’s problems when it is each person’s and country’s responsibility to work on and heal those issues that keep them from living with true wellbeing, joy and harmony. But when we become insular and look at life through the lens of ‘me and mine,’ whether it be within our own families or on the grander scale of a country, it creates a scenario where we lose touch with the innate connection, sensitivity and love we have with everyone else, which is the thing we all truly crave, and which is our natural way. This then becomes a fertile ground for calculating actions and abuse of all kinds where we justify our greedy or self-centred ways based on a belief or ideal that we just have to take care of ourselves or our immediate family, business, country, even if it means that others will be suffering as a consequence.
Another outplay of this protected way of living can be the harmful expression of supremacy, where through a judgement of one person or group (namely ‘me and mine’) being more important or better than another, there develops a mode of protection, favouritism and eventually persecution of other groups of people. It usually begins with some kind of undealt-with emotional hurt that has never been healed. This can show up within families first and then spread to work and eventually to even government policy as one aspect of life cannot be disconnected from another because everything affects everything else. This is something that tends to be overlooked, as if people’s family life has no impact on their work life, which is the same as saying, “If I remove someone’s left kidney, it won’t have any effect on the rest of their body’s physiology.”
So as long as we maintain an individualistic and nationalistic approach to the world, to me this will guarantee that there remains an ‘us and them’ attitude, which will spawn all sorts of division and eventually sustain the wars that are still so prevalent, and which really start out as the wars within ourselves when we are resisting and fighting our true nature within.
There is a real irony in the way in which flags have been used for thousands of years to designate certain tribal groups and eventually whole countries. And that is because even though the intention may have been to symbolise a sense of unity and brotherhood among these groups of people, in the end it has often resulted in a classification that has actually separated people and further cemented the divisions that eventually lead to the wars previously mentioned. It’s just another way to say, “We are different to you” instead of approaching life in a way that realises that we are all the same and from the same source. Perhaps through the acceptance of this true knowingness of equality, we will someday let go of any need to mark separate lands or separate people in any way by adopting our true heritage as Universal beings.
While contemplating which tea to order at my favourite tea shop, I began to wonder about how we describe the taste of things and asked the owner how she would share what a certain tea tastes like, to which she replied, “If they asked for a Rooibos tea, for instance, I would say it pretty much tastes like, well, Rooibos!” I asked this question because what occurred to me is how we tend to use all kinds of descriptive words to describe things like how a tea tastes, such as ‘floral,’ ‘woody,’ ‘rich,’ ‘earthy,’ ‘smooth,’ ‘crisp’ and we can take on the subjective nature of these words as our truth in a way that removes the most accurate sensor of Truth that all of humanity has… the human body.
What unfolded from there was a philosophical discussion with the purveyor of the tea about how predominant this type of communication is in all walks of life, from the description of foods and drinks, what it feels like to watch an eagle soaring above you, to other things like flying an airplane, how it feels to pet a fluffy dog, or even lying on a sandy beach as you watch a golden sunset, and if there is a deeper form of experiential wisdom we can have in our lives. Of course we want to use our language to convey to others the sense of something we experienced, but my feeling is that at some point we give more significance to what others have said about something rather than honouring the power of what our bodies can feel on a deeper level once we directly experience something for ourselves.
It’s almost like we trust our brains and what others think more than we trust our bodies and what they know. Another example of this just came to me, where last night at work we were looking for an inspector we needed to check our work and were asked to find the next shift’s inspector (let’s call him Tom for the story). When we asked the manager what he looked like, he hesitated and said, “Well, he’s kinda short and chubby,” to which we all laughed as that was quite a generic description that matches a lot of people, really! He really had a hard time describing him and I can totally understand that because there really is no substitute for meeting someone in person, looking into their eyes, and allowing not only our five senses to take in the image of the person, but to feel their presence and the quality of their personality and all it offers as well.
When we honour these direct forms of experiential wisdom we are actually recognising that there are deeper levels of energetic communication happening that go way beyond the words used to describe something. Anyone who has listened to an inspiring or touching story can attest to the fact that they could feel something within them that was being communicated from the other person on a level that was not expressed merely by the words being used.
Therefore, we can easily be fooled by words alone, such as when someone makes a claim of something being true but we just read the words being used and don’t give ourselves the chance to read the underlying energy that these words were transmitted with. This also applies to verbal communication, for instance, when we listen to a politician’s speech and believe what he or she is proposing but fail to consider the motivation or force behind those words.
Anyone can perform a certain act, but what quality of energy is it being accomplished with? I can hammer in a nail while building a house with anger, frustration and resentment, or with love and appreciation for the opportunity to build a lasting ‘nest’ that is supportive for the occupants for a hundred years into the future. These energetic imprints are lasting and we actually do have the ability to feel the difference between the two when we allow our bodies to observe the truth of this, as we are feeling it all the time whether we acknowledge this or not.
Our history of accumulating facts and knowledge and owning it as if that is going to help advance us as a humanity has simply not worked.
All one needs to do is look at the current levels of exhaustion, mental illness, disease, famine, poverty and war in the world to see that one may have the ability to regurgitate a million factoids and have 10 doctorate degrees, but he or she may not be one step closer to living a life filled with the love, harmony, stillness, joyand vitality that is our natural way. I feel that a more practical approach to life and a focus on feeling the truth of a thing via direct observation provides a more real and lasting form of wisdom that can be shared with others.