Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

On This Thanksgiving

candles-smallYes, I’m a Star Trek fan.  I don’t play with phasers or go to conventions, but I like the characters, the settings, the cool often physics-defying technology, and the underlying theme of hope for the human race.  I watched one of the movies yesterday.  I’ll leave it to the trekkies to figure out which, but most of it takes place on Earth after traveling back in time to the year 2063.  From there a reference is made that within 50 years, all hunger, poverty, and war will be wiped out as the human race becomes united in a way it never thought possible.

I am reflecting on this hopeful future as this week of Thanksgiving has turned to one of mourning and remembrance of nearly 200 fallen in Mumbai.  They were of different nationalities, different genders, different ages, and different faiths, but had in common that they were brutally slaughtered by sociopaths.

Their murderers were not insane madmen.  They decided, planned, prepared, coordinated, and acted.  They not only embodied barbarism and hatred, but wasted potential.  We, they, and their victims share over 99.99% of the same DNA.  We, they, and their victims are all us.  How can we as a species transcend this incredible nonsense?  Can we ever, or is it just an inescapable consequence of billions of people crowded together with the various imbalances of human nature?

According to the Star Trek timeline, we have about 100 years to make good; less than one year per Mumbai victim.  What would it really take?  The human race has been at it for 100,000 years, so it would seem that normal evolution won’t cut it in the next 100.  It would take something truly disruptive, so global in scope, so profound in meaning, so undeniable in faith, that the remaining cells of these warped strains would be too small to be biologically viable and become in essence an endangered species.

Can this happen in the next century?  With all my heart I hope yes.  However, history says no.  Either way, I’ll be thinking good thoughts for the families and friends of those so sadly taken on this Thanksgiving.

A Perfect Moment

clear-mountainsAs a pilot, I find there is something inexplicable in the nature of flying that causes me to feel more connected to life than anything else.  One evening, I set out just before sunset in a Beechcraft Sundowner from Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford MA enroute to Springfield VT.  The sky was beautifully clear and smooth.  I landing in a deserted Springfield just as night was falling.  The facilities closed at 5pm so there was no one around; just peace, quiet, and mountains.  After stretching my legs for a bit, I got back in the sky now completely enveloped in night.  My route home took me east to Manchester NH and then south back to Bedford.

After reaching my cruising altitude on the leg to Manchester, I paused for a moment to take in the scene.  I was just out of Vermont heading east.  The crystal clear dry air allowed me to see Boston, lit up and alive at my distant 2 o’clock.  I was flying directly into a full moon just 30 degrees above the horizon and the air was so clear, that I could actually see its reflection in the Atlantic a state away.  My plane was performing flawlessly with every instrument spot on.  While monitoring Manchester Approach, I heard and saw another plane flying west about 5 miles off my left wing at 6,500 MSL.  Their dialog included the sighting of an unidentified craft heading east at 5,500 MSL (me).  I called Manchester to identify myself acknowledging my awareness of the other plane; all standard.

This is a very different world, not at all solitary, and happening all the time in a thin layer above the earth.  But what struck me during this very brief moment of reflection was its beauty and its clarity.  This is a world where everything makes sense to me.  Every event happens for a reason that is readily apparent; not at all standard for normal life.

Moments like these are fleeting and cannot be manufactured.  This is probably why these moments are so special.  This and the sense of complete clarity they bring, if only for a moment.