A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

With Jennifer at Denny's 05-22-14

Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agony’s your heaviest load
Never fly as the crow flies
Get used to a country mile
When you’re learning to face
The path at your pace,
every choice is worth your while

– The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers.

Several years ago I was acquainted with an airline Captain here in the Denver area. While I never had the opportunity to fly with him personally several of my friends did. And without exception they all said he was just the kind of Captain we First Officers love to fly with: technically competent, ran a great crew, fun on a layover.

But did you know that airline pilots have to retire at a certain age? Eventually this career-ending limitation caught up with this guy and he was required by law to hang up his Captain’s hat with the scrambled eggs on the bill and his Captain’s jacket with the 4 stripes on the sleeve.

At that point he found himself standing on a watershed. On one side of the watershed leading up to retirement he had been the quintessential airline pilot. It’s all he’d ever wanted to do; it’s all he’d ever done. His entire identity was wrapped up in this idea of flying big jets around the world for United Airlines.

But now he was being challenged by Fortune to look down the other side of the watershed and try to figure out how to be something… else.

As I tell you this story I think about Victor Frankl and how he taught us that life is not so much a quest for pleasure or power as it is a quest for meaning. And I think of Friedrich Nietsche who tells us that “one who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how.’”

This Captain needed some meaning to live for. He needed a new ‘why’ to help him bear his new ‘how.’ He was facing a hard battle.

Sadly, he chose not to fight it. The day after his retirement became official he drove to the fire station in his neighborhood, parked his car, pulled out a gun and created a permanent solution to what should have been a temporary challenge in his life.

Here’s something I know about you today. Today you are facing a hard battle. And daily you choose to fight it – or not. How’s it going? Why do you do the things you do?

We’ll think some more about that in The Watershed Part 2: https://thesymphonyofyourlife.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/the-watershed-part-2/


Link to Mark’s book, The Symphony of Your Life



Mark graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982. After nine years as a pilot on active duty, he left the military to join a commercial airline. In addition to flying B-777s around the world, Hardcastle spends time in the Rocky Mountains and serves on the artistic staff of the Colorado Children’s Chorale. He lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his wife and four children. Contact Mark today to schedule a keynote or workshop for your organization!
Email mark@symphonyofyourlife.com or call 720.840.8361

One thought on “The Watershed Part 1

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