The Watershed Part 3

A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

Seth - Moab May 2011 028

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.

…we have an opportunity in those challenges to create meaning. Now it’s not the challenges themselves that matter. We have no say in what Fortune throws at us. The opportunity is in how we respond.  So how are you responding today when Fortune challenges you with difficult times?

Challenges. Are. Inevitable. It’s how we respond that matters.

Ok, Mark. How inevitable are these challenges?

Well let’s look back in history and see if we can find a pattern or two. How far back? Well, how about 2500 years? Would that provide enough perspective?

In about 400 BC Buddha imagined the Four Noble Truths. Truth number 1: Life is suffering. Fifty years before that on the other side of the world, Plato was reminding his followers to “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Still in the Mediterranean half a millennium later Epictetus was teaching that “it is what it is.”

Hmm. Can we just skip over the Dark Ages and come right to the 20th century? In 1946 we received Viktor Frankl’s wisdom. He posited that life is not so much a quest for pleasure or power as a search for meaning. Then in 1978 M. Scott Peck wrote his controversial (at least in my world) book, The Road Less Traveled. Chapter 1, page 1, line 1: “Life is suffering.”

Right back to Buddha.

Seriously? Is that the best we can hope for? Absolutely not!

Every one of these individuals used those ideas as starting points in a conversation about how to find joy in an imperfect world..

May 18th 2012 I had  a profound opportunity to join that conversation…

I woke up on that trail, my nose and mouth filled with the dust of the Utah desert. The sun, earlier hidden by overcast now making itself fully known on my face and in my eyes. Pain building steadily between my shoulder blades and at the base of my neck as I became more and more aware. With that awareness came clarity and I told myself I must remain still until I knew more. With absolute care not to allow my head to move I took inventory of my extremities. Left toes? Yep, they work. Right foot? Check. Left fingers? No problem. Right arm…?

Right arm!!…? ? ?

Problem.

In the silence of that moment Fortune presented her challenge in great big letters across the sky: Your neck may be broken. Your right arm is gone.

How are you going to respond?

Part 4: https://thesymphonyofyourlife.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/the-watershed-part-4/

IMG_20151209_182818

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!

The Watershed Part 2

A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

Seth - Moab May 2011 022

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.

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?

I had a chance to ask myself that question 3 ½  years ago. May 18th, 2012 I was over in Moab, UT with a bunch of friends who go there every year to ride mountain bikes. Day one of the trip began perfectly. Clear deep blue sky. Crisp morning air. Sitting in the Moab diner with biker breakfasts of pancakes and sausage, bacon and eggs, and biscuits and gravy we could look across Main Street and watch the sun warm the red rock wall of the Colorado River canyon.

We left the Diner and hitched a van ride to the Porcupine Rim trail head, geared up, cranked the rest of the way to the summit, and started the adrenaline-infused downhill through the willows toward the Castle Valley overlook. By this time a high overcast had moved in, providing some small mercy from what can be a tortuous sun in the Utah desert.

After freewheeling down the slope for about 45 minutes the trail crosses a paved road. So I skipped up onto the pavement, then down into the dirt on the other side. As I settled back into the single-track I saw the rocks sticking up on either end of the half-buried log. Not a big deal – I’d already negotiated far worse several times that morning so I didn’t think anything of it. Didn’t even slow down. But I do remember thinking “I’m gonna have to either jump that or go around it.”

That’s the last thing I remember from the ride.

The next thing I remember is waking up… looking at the sky, no longer gray. The sun in its arrogance was making itself fully known on my face. I was still on the trail, but I wasn’t on my bike anymore. And I wasn’t moving. In fact I couldn’t move my right arm. I could move everything else. But I couldn’t move my arm.

It is an indisputable fact of life that stuff happens. Fortune simply does challenge us on a regular basis with difficult situations. And we have an opportunity in those challenges to create meaning. Now it’s not the challenges themselves that matter. We have no say in what Fortune throws at us. The opportunity is in how we respond.  So how are you responding today when Fortune challenges you with difficult times?

We’ll think together again in Part 3: https://thesymphonyofyourlife.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/the-watershed-part-3/

IMG_20151209_182818

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!

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/

IMG_20151209_182818

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