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I have been almost paralyzed recently.  I I now have a better understanding of how the "deer in the headlights" must have felt.  I have been barely able to do the things I must do, much less the things I would like to do.  I have books and magazines I would like to read, friends I need to touch base with, a family reunion that I need to plan, and deep thoughts that I need to think, but I have been nearly paralyzed.  I can't turn the news off long enough to do those things.  The market's ridiculous actions, news of the upcoming election and the candidates' debates, the world's financial panic, falling home values, and the twenty-four hour news cycle are all conspiring to paralyze me. What is going on here?  I have got to turn CNN and CNBC off for a while.  Last week I caught myself turning to CNBC and literally opening only one eye to take just one peak at what the DOW was doing before immediately turning it off.  I have almost sworn off of CNN and FOX News.  I have often thought that in times like these I should watch no news at all and spend all of my free time listening to that great American poet, Jimmy Buffet.  Buffet makes me feel better about life in general.  We can all use a little more Buffet about now.

According to most polls (for what they are worth) the level of satisfaction most Americans feel for their lives is at an all time low.  That is amazing to me and hard to understand when one scans the American landscape and compares it with our past.  We have a greater percentage of homes with cars, big screen tvs, washers and dryers, cell phones, and other electronic and labor saving devices than at any time in our history, but we apparenty don't have enough.  The average American lives better than 90% of the world's population, but most aren't happy with their lives?  What is out of whack here?  Most of us no longer have to survive by the sweat of our brow as did my parents and their generation for much of their lives.  Many young people do not even know what I am referring to when I speak of the "sweat of their brow."  We have more government programs designed to help our citizenry, from Food Stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Children, to Social Security and Medicare than at any time in our history, but yet we as a people expect more.  How much would be enough; what will it take for Americans to feel more satisfaction?  Maybe, just maybe, it's not more things that we need.  Contemplating these facts also nearly paralyzes me for I have no answers.

But . . .(deep breath). . . I have decided to snap out of my paralysis.  I have decided to move on and feel better.  Yeah, I am going to let Jimmy help me a little, but I am also going to sharpen my focus and control my own emotions better.  I am going to spend a little more time with the right side of my brain.  That is the hemisphere of the brain that lets you pay attention to the richness of the present.  The left side is preoccupied with the past and future, projecting fears, contemplating ideas that aren't really relevant to the here and now.  I have so much to appreciate about the here and now that I really don't need to spend so much time and energy fretting about the uncertain future.  If we will only take the time to notice, the present gives us all much to appreciate.  Of course we all have problems and challenges, but we have so much more.  Most of us have good friends, loving families, opportunities to improve ourselves and to do good for others.  I am told that reaching out to others is a sure-fireway to improve one's outlook on life.  It really is counter productive to dwell on one's own problems too much.  There is always someone in a worse situation.  So, I am spending more time with my left brain, determined to savor the moment whether it is the cockpit watching a sunrise, watching the hapless Vols play football, or at home with my loved ones.  And I am leaving CNBC off for a while.  I'll check in there next year, around June should be a good time.

I also want to project this new approach to those around me.  I am refusing to be a complainer.  I want to be a source of encouragement and joy to those with whom I interact.  Many pilots with whom I work have seen their lives turn out differently than they had imagined, and they are bitter.  Many have reasons to be that way, but it is what it is, and dwelling on lost opportunities and disappointments serves no useful purpose.  I want to encourage them to look ahead, to appreciate what they have.  I want to be an encourager.  I want to reach out to others, even those with whom I don't always agree.

I have also decided to quit worrying about the upcoming election.  Although I believe that God gave us a brain and we need to use it when we vote, I also believe that God is still in control.  Although I will not vote for Barack Obama, I expect that he will be our next president and I do not believe that he is the anti-Christ.  In fact, I agree with some of his policy stances and believe him to be an honorable man.  Although I find some of his shrill supporters unbearable, he has many wise, decent supporters and that gives me hope for his presidency.  In spite of some election year rhetoric, our country is still strong and resilient and we have survived much.  I expect that we will survive Obama and the challenges of the coming years quite well.  In fact, we may very well thrive rather than just survive.

Finally, I intend to explore and deepen my religious faith.  The correlation between religious faith and one's health and general well-being is well documented.  This correlation has been analyzed in more than 2,200 studies over the past several years.  This research shows that people who attend church at least four times a month are less likely to engage in risky behavior, be depressed, or feel chronic stress.  They live longer as well.  One 1999 study published in the journal Demography, tracked 20,000 Americans and found that white people who regularly attended church lived an average seven years longer than their nonchurchgoing counterparts, and black people lived a remarkable 14 years longer!  The researcher explained that people who believe in God often feel that that in itself is the reward that gives life meaning.  "It's the sense that God has a purpose for humanity and for all of creation, and that each of us has a special role in that divine plan," they explained.(Nov/Dec AARP Journal, Pg. 34)  I believe that, and faith in God comes naturally for me; I intend to nourish that faith more in the days ahead.

Wow, I feel better already; this may be working!  Is that Son of a Son of a Sailor I hear in the background?


Fly?Drive Safely

15 October 2008

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Reader Comments (2)

You have great potential in replacing Andy Rooney. So when the airlines not longer need you,there seems to be great longivity in that job.

October 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Immersing oneself in Stephenie Meyer books works well too.

October 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

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