"We're depressurizing the cabin, lowering altitude quickly, and that sound is the oxygen pump. The pilots are on oxygen, just in case."
I didn't ask, "Just in case what?" because we all knew the answer. Just in case that windshield blew.
The pilots, Terry and Danny, turned the plane around, and I watched the clock: 27 minutes to landing. I thought, What if I'd listened to my inner voice and not flown today? Several times that morning I had wanted to cancel. I was feeling off-balance, rushed. I'd be leaving my three puppies, one of whom had thrown up, and because all of them sleep together, I couldn't tell which one. I called Bob and said, "I may not go today."
"Why?" he said.
"Not feeling it. What do you think?"
"I think you should consult that trusted inner voice of yours."
I got in the tub, where I do my best thinking. Got out and was definitely calling the pilots to postpone the trip. And then I didn't. I overrode that feeling. What if I hadn't? Would the windshield still have cracked? No doubt. But would we have been over the ocean with no place to land? I had not made provisions in my will for what happens to my puppies—Luke, Layla, and Gracie—if I don't make it. I needed to get my house more in order. All of these thoughts spun in less than a minute. I looked at the clock again: 26 minutes and 12 seconds until landing.
I was going to lose my mind watching that clock, so I started to read Time magazine's "Persons of the Year" article about Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono. I became lost in their good works and felt a resolved calm. We'll be all right, no matter the outcome. The whoosh, thump became a source of comfort: Oxygen! Life! Oxygen! Life!
We landed safely, of course, and heard the false reports that we'd been hit by a bird. We're still waiting to find out the real reason for the crack.
The windshield was replaced, and the day after, the pilots said, "We can fly anytime you're ready." I could feel fear in the shadows. Do I dare fly over the ocean again so soon? What was the lesson for me? Did I get it?
I know for sure that whenever your gut is out of kilter, trouble awaits. Your gut is your inner compass. Whenever you have to consult with other people for an answer, you're headed in the wrong direction.
I got it. I get it. I know it for sure. As for flying over the ocean, well, I don't want to feel that helpless again. I also don't want to live in fear. As I close this page, we're headed for takeoff. Aloha!
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