The Watershed Part 1

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/

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

http://www.symphonyofyourlife.com

 

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

You Can – You Just Need to Know You Can, Part 1

A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

JOAX 13-03

During my third summer at the USAF Academy, I had the opportunity to attend the U.S. Army’s Parachute Training Jump School at Ft. Benning in Columbus, Georgia. It was a challenging three-week course. Ground Week taught us to properly put on our 50 pounds of equipment and how to do a tumbling roll to absorb the impact of hitting the ground. During Tower Week we were hoisted up on towers high enough to allow us to experience descending underneath an actual open parachute. Then came week three: Jump Week. During Jump Week we would jump five times out of perfectly good airplanes.

Three different weeks, three different skill sets to master, on our way to earning our Parachutist Badge, or “Jump Wings.”

It would be an important omission though, if any description of Jump School did not emphasize that the syllabus consisted more than anything else of physical conditioning. It’s certainly true that when descending beneath an open parachute one comes down more slowly than if one didn’t have a parachute. Even so, one can still hit the ground pretty hard, and injuries are not uncommon. The best way to keep from getting hurt is to be in the best possible shape. So a large part of the training involved getting us in good enough condition to endure a parachute landing without injury. We did a lot of push ups under that Georgia sun. And more than a few sit ups in the wet heat.

No surprise, then, when we showed up for training in the middle of the second week and were told that we were going on a one-mile run. We formed up in a platoon and off we went. And the Jumpmasters set what we might call a “brisk” pace. And then they got faster. And faster again. As we approached the end of the course we were at a lung-searing sprint.

We came down to the final hundred yards. At that point the Jumpmasters began taunting us, telling us that we’d be going another full mile before being allowed to stop!

Soon as they said that a bunch of trainees dropped out of the platoon. They felt like they couldn’t go another step, much less another mile. So they gave up on the spot.

Then came the lesson of the day. Those of us who stayed in formation ran maybe another hundred yards before the Jumpmasters called us to a halt and let us rest. As we walked back to join our friends who’d given up only a few yards short of the end, the instructors said nothing, allowing the lesson to become self-evident…

Part 2: The lesson of the day…

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

http://www.symphonyofyourlife.com

Mark Hardcastle 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