Just before the plane took off, a weird noise punctured the air — a thumping, grinding, ominous complaint. It reminded me of when my husband overloaded our washing machine with a million pairs of jeans and a truckload of towels. For a guy who owns a coin-op, Gary’s a menace in the laundry room.
On the plane that day, I wondered what those noises were but didn’t dwell on it. Although I’ve experienced a few tense moments, I’ve logged a lot of hours on airplanes and survived them all. And really, what am I going to do anyway if something goes wrong?
What an enormous amount of trust all of us demonstrate each time we fly. We trust individuals, machines, and processes — everything it takes to get us where we’re going. Have you ever noticed that when planes make weird noises, we sort of look at each other, but mostly, no one says anything? Instead, we eat a few pretzels and ultimately land far away from where we started, mostly forgetting about the miracle we just experienced.
Science nerds like to explain the principles of flight, but the rest of us only marvel that something as heavy as a building can fling itself safely into the air and land exactly where it’s supposed to, pretty much on schedule. When we fly, we forget about all the complex systems behind each flight; we trust the process so much that it doesn’t even factor into our consciousness.
Just after Lauren was born, my husband decided he wanted to open a flight school. Starting a new business, especially in beautiful but over-regulated Northern California, is a demonstration of trust, too. We rented an abandoned building at Lampson Field, put our marketing skills to work, and trusted that the students would come.
Fresh-faced teenagers with aviation dreams took keys to our airplanes. From my desk, I could see them carefully performing their pre-flight routines, clamping headphones over their ears, and then disappearing into the blue. Other times, I watched our open-cockpit Stearman biplane lumber down the taxiway and then pop into the air, light as a feather, its fabric-covered yellow wings gleaming in the California sun. Bring them back, I beseeched God. I prayed for all our students and instructors, even the ones I didn’t like.
Being an entrepreneur has taught me that if I do my homework, exert my best effort, get help when I need it, and trust my gut, I’ll come out all right.
Today I’m taking that truth with me as I settle into the day. Sometimes I wake up with an uneasiness, a premonition that cancer will be back. It’s as if I can feel those cancer-infected lymph nodes my surgeon skillfully removed or the spot on my sternum that chemotherapy and radiation blasted away. Sometimes I think about the new lump a doctor found on my left breast recently. That breast is supposed to be my healthy one.
Moments of doubt are inevitable. But those doubts are like weird noises. Whether they come from an airplane, a washing machine, or an overactive imagination, they’re all just noise. Underneath the surface, in a place I trust so deeply that it’s sometimes easy to forget about, there’s a profound well of peace. In the silence, I remember to disregard the noise.
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