A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

Captain’s Log: September 30, 2020. Traveling as a civilian, going to a meeting.

I sat down in my car, Starbucks in hand, and started the motor to head for the airport. Since I wasn’t operating that day, I could have literally walked up to the gate 10 minutes before departure and been ok. But that would have been unwise…

My plan, then, was to arrive at the low-cost parking lot about 90 minutes before push back – gracious plenty of margin for any kind of issues with traffic, shuttle bus to the terminal, security lines, whatever.

Of course, it was early in the morning. And human nature, at least my human nature, being what it is, I was running a little behind schedule. As I pulled into Starbucks I was 20 minutes later than I had planned. Knowing I’d built in all that margin I still wasn’t stressed. But I had been aware of a nagging sense floating just beneath my consciousness ever since I got out of the shower that something wasn’t right. I wrote it off to pre-game jitters, and an unusual context. I was going as a passenger that day – not a Captain. So a little nervousness might be expected, right?

Then it hit me. I was an hour off. In the wrong direction. Gawd. If I have to be off an hour why couldn’t I be an hour early? No such luck.

Alright, now what? There is absolutely no way I’m gonna make this flight. It takes an hour from my house to the concourse on a good day with no delays. And I’m pulling out of Starbucks and into the teeth of morning rush hour 75 minutes before push back.

As I turned onto Arapahoe Rd. headed for the interstate I listed my options. Can I take a later flight? Yes. Pros and cons? I can still easily make the conference the next day, which is my primary reason for traveling. That’s good. But I’m planning to meet my college roommate for dinner this evening. If I take the later flight I arrive too late for that. That’s bad. Can that be rescheduled? Maybe, but he’s also an airline Captain and may or may not be available the next day or later. Conclusion: it would be really good if I could somehow make the first flight.

It ain’t gonna happen. There’s no way. The reality settles into my forebrain as I enter the flow from the ramp onto I-25. Since the next flight is two hours later I might as well just keep going. When does Google say I’m gonna arrive at the airport?

Thirty minutes before push. Welp, that’s not enough time to get parked, catch the shuttle, go to the employee line for security, get selected for a random inspection, then catch the train and run down the concourse to my gate. Obviously, I’m not gonna catch this flight. Relax and plan to get a nice breakfast in the terminal before the second flight. Maybe I should text Kevin and let him know?

Well, maybe we hold off on that text. What if I park in the garage instead of the cheap lot? Google says that would actually give me a fighting chance. It’s becoming conceivable that I could make it if I parked close, made it through the employee security line without getting selected for additional inspection, and did the O.J. Simpson run (Millennials and younger Google it) through the concourse. Garage parking? Expensive. Sheesh! Dinner with my roommate? Priceless. Yeah, ok. I’m in. Let’s give it a shot.

Red lights. I’ve only just made the northbound turn on I-225 beyond Iliff Avenue when I see brake lights ahead. Google shows the highway has turned a mixture of yellow and red all the way up to I-70. Well, that pretty well takes care of that. But I’m going anyway, right? So I keep driving.

And somehow, as if by magic, the traffic didn’t slow down all that much. Next thing I knew I was taking the Peña Blvd exit from I-70 and Google was saying I’d still arrive at the airport 25 minutes before push. What the heck? Am I gonna catch this flight? Hammer down. Please no cops…

True to Google’s word I pulled into the garage 25 minutes before departure time. I parked and started running toward the terminal. Next hurdle: security. The crew line was short. I flashed my badge, lowered my mask so he could match my face against my passport photo (I know… don’t get me started), and was on the escalator to the train.

Twenty minutes until push back. They close the door at the 10-minute mark. I reached the bottom of the escalator just in time to see the train pull away. Two minutes until the next train. Tick tock.

On the train. Half-a-minute to the A concourse. Wait a minute for passengers to get off and on the train. Another half-a minute to the B concourse. I think I’m gonna make it.

Off the train, onto the rising escalator. It’s soooo. Blooooody. Sloooow. At the top I turned east and started the O.J. thing toward gate 47. I arrived sweaty and breathless 12 minutes before departure time. I headed for the door to scan my boarding pass. Wait – what? Des Moines? I’m going to Atlanta! They’ve changed the gate? To what (please, please, please not gate 15!)? Gate 50 right over there? Awesome!

I scanned my pass literally 10 minutes before departure. The agent followed me down the jet bridge and closed the aircraft door behind me. This is me settling into my seat 7 minutes before push time.

Dinner with my roommate that evening was ever-so-sweet. And he never knew just how close we’d come to not having it. The meeting the next day was exciting. And my writing retreat over the following days in the cabin up the road from the conference was highly productive as I put some of the finishing touches on my next book.

So why am I telling this story? The point is really self-evident, isn’t it? As my heart rate slowed back toward normal I had to laugh. All the clichés came to mind: it ain’t over ‘til it’s over; never give up; and, of course, stay in the process. What a great example of how sometimes improbable desires work out – if we’re still there for it to happen! Several times during that drive it had become clear that there was no way I was gonna be on that flight. At any point I could have stopped looking for ways to make it work and relaxed into the understanding that I would have to see my roommate another time, and stepped out of the process. Yet there I was.

And here we are. The story of my hopeless drive to the airport sort of sums it all up – all the stories and lessons I’ve been writing about since my first book came out. (There’s a hint in that last sentence for those who are watching…) Sure, it contains all the clichés. But that doesn’t make the stories or their morals invalid. Clichés become clichés because they are commonly used. They are commonly used because they are true. Which means each one can be useful for those who have not yet assimilated that particular truth.

Now… I know my demographic. I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard and likely assimilated all these clichés. And yet, something else I’m pretty sure about is even at my season of life it’s often helpful, or at least maybe kinda fun, to hear an old truth expressed in a new way.

So here ya go.

Thanks for reading!

Captain Mark

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

The Symphony of Your Life    

The Symphony of Your Life on YouTube

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-737s around the country, 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. Need some help figuring out why you’re on this planet? Want to talk about discovering your mission and purpose? Contact Mark today at 720.840.8361 to schedule a free personal consultation. He can also deliver an inspirational keynote or workshop for your organization! email: mark@symphonyofyourlife.com for information.

Posted in Inspiration, Motivation, UncategorizedTagged BeingUnited, CaptainsLog, determination, how, inspiration, NewWorld, perseverance, PostCovid, purpose, StayInTheProcess, StepOverTheBar, symphonyofyourlife, TheSymphonyofYourLife, United, WeAreUnited


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