In 4.5 weeks I will be done with airplane school. I mean, really, really done. Finit. It’s kind of blowing my mind because it really does feel as if I started just a few days ago.
The funny thing about time, and aging , is that everything always seems so far off. A goal that will take several years to complete hardly seems worth starting because “by the time I get done I’ll be X years old. That’s too old to be starting something new.” Before I actually made this happen, I dreamed and then let the dream die. Over four years ago I went and talked to the nice man in the Tech department at South Seattle College. And then I put it aside. Unrealistic. People my age can’t start over. By the time I finish, I’ll be too old. Microsoft is fine – I’m happy, really I am. Well, sure, I would be happier pursuing my dream, but since that’s impossible, I’ll just stay put. It’s fine. I didn’t really want that aviation career anyway.
I don’t think I’ve ever shared this on the blog before – here’s what changed my mind. I was on a flight and something wonky was going on. One of the flight attendants kept leaning over me to shine a flashlight on the wing. (Aside, did she think I wouldn’t notice, or was it that I looked like I could be counted on not to cause a fuss?) This was almost two years after I had talked to the nice man in the Tech department and then decided the dream was crazy and let it go dormant.
Then, on that flight I thought “dammit, if I had actually DONE something about going to airplane mechanic school, instead of just thinking about it, I would have a mechanic’s license by now. I could have an intelligent conversation with the flight attendant, and maybe even offer some useful information.” But instead I could only sit there, another software industry grunt, with zero airplane credibility.
That was my turning point. After I returned from that trip I started telling people about my idea – to make it real. If I remember correctly, my friends were surprised. I got a few “airplane mech – what? What the what?” responses, but once people got over their initial shock everyone was supportive. Of course once I decided to do it, I wanted it to happen right away, but when I talked to the nice man in the Tech department again, I learned there was a waiting list, which seemed SO unfair – after all, hadn’t I waited long enough? Just kidding. I filed the paperwork to get on that waiting list within hours of the meeting and the rest, as they say, is (my personal) history.
So back to that initial hesitation … there’s a life coach idea out there that if you’re hesitant to take on a long term project because you’ll be too old once it’s completed, ask yourself how old you’ll be in that number of years otherwise. Amazingly, you’ll be the same age. Yep, X years plus your current age will always equal your current age plus X. I’m the same age after two years of airplane school as I would be after two more years of the software company grind.
You can choose now how you’ll feel later: happy and fulfilled; or sighing under the weight of regret about what might have been, or more likely, desperately rationalizing that the familiar path was the one you wanted all along anyway, really. Don’t let fear of time’s passage stop you. Time’s gonna pass no matter what you do.