A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

SOYL Table Display
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.

At that point I was given a great gift from the Universe. Now it’s not what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “no foolin’ Sport, you got to walk away from a broken neck.”

Yeah, that was a nice gift. But what I’m talking about is what the surgeon did next. She trussed me up in a cervical collar and told me not to remove it for the next 90 days under any circumstances.

Well, that sort of cramped my style during the summer of 2012. There were things I would have done that I couldn’t do with a cervical collar around my neck. Things I’d have seen, places I’d have gone.

This Watershed Event had brought my life to a sudden stop. And I was given the gift of stillness for a change.

Three months to figure out how to respond to this challenge that Fortune had thrown my way.

So what did I think about during those long days and longer nights of hardly being able to move?

I have a friend who kept coming to mind over and over again. He’s also an airline pilot who works for one of the carriers that was devastated by the events of 9/11. As it happened, one of the 4 Captains on one of the 4 jets that went down that day was his close personal friend and mentor. Unimaginable loss. And in the aftermath of that horrific day my friend’s airline declared bankruptcy and cut his pay in half. Because of that he lost his home to foreclosure and personal bankruptcy. Then a few months before my accident they found 2 different kinds of cancer in 2 different parts of his body.

So let’s see. Friend murdered by terrorists. Career disaster. Foreclosure. Bankruptcy. Cancer times 2. That’s a heavy list. But you’d never know any of that had happened to him unless you knew it had happened. He’s one of the most positive, optimistic, fun-to-be-around individuals I’ve ever known.

How can that dichotomy exist in any individual? How can it exist in the world?

I asked him that question. Here’s what he said. “You know, sometimes Life kicks you where it hurts. And you can either lay there and moan, or you can get up and move on with what’s important.”

In other words, every challenge brings a choice. You can choose to fight your battles, or not.

That was it. He was, and still is, moving forward. And there, through him, was my challenge. Was I gonna lay there and moan, or was I gonna get up and move on with what’s important?

Of course, if you give a monkey 3 months and enough bananas he’ll figure it out. So I did. And 18 months later my book was finished. And all the good things that have flowed from that got underway.

So here’s my question for you today. What Watershed Event has brought your life to a sudden stop?

More importantly, how are you responding? Are you resolving today, tomorrow, next month, next year to get up and do what needs to be done? Are you embracing the challenges that history has taught us are inevitable? Are you taking the opportunity to create meaning out of those challenges?

What if today as you fight your hard battles you recognized that it’s not what happens in life that matters – it’s how we respond?

A few days ago we looked at ancient philosophers and what they had to say about the inevitability of challenges. Let’s conclude by going back again to the philosophy of the ages. Further back than Epictetus. Beyond Plato and Buddha. Back 3,000 years to one of the oldest philosophies of all.

The Judeo-Christian tradition expressed in the book of Isaiah promises that if we resolve to do the things we were put on this earth to do, embracing the reality and opportunity of challenge, creating meaning out of the inevitable Watershed Events that bring our lives to sudden stops, then we shall have a song. And gladness of heart.

What more meaning could there be?

Thanks for reading!


The Symphony of Your Life

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!

One thought on “The Watershed, Part 5

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