As a child, one of the dreams I had was to become a pilot. I was never really interested on flying passengers or cargo specifically, but just flying an aircraft. When I was around 15 and living in Mexico, I asked my Father if he could help me inquire through a friend of his who was the Military Attaché in the US Embassy in Mexico City if I could join the US Air Force. We went to visit this man and he told us that since I wore glasses the only option possible was to join the US Air Force as a navigator and not a pilot, or maybe even try to join West Point Academy to become an Officer. I was not interested.
A mere 5 years later my Father passed away. It was not unexpected, since he had been suffering a decline on his health derived from the consequences of a drastic diet as guided by a Physician, until his body could no longer stop losing weight. He became extremely weak and his heart could not take it. Needless to say, it was a very shattering event in my life and that of my family. He was a superb example of what it means to be a great man in every aspect.
I rambled around for some months, eventually working in a cargo ship on my way to and from Europe, staying there several months trying to find a path that felt right, until I eventually realized I was not going to find it that way, so I returned to Mexico. After arriving back in Mexico City I was attending classes in different Universities trying to determine what career would be best for me, when a friend of mine invited me to go with him and take an aviation medical check up to determine if I passed the minimum standards to become a pilot.
To my surprise I passed the medical and three months later I was on my way to a US Flight Academy in Vero Beach Florida, where I eventually obtained my Commercial Pilot wings.
My adult life has been lived within the margins of my profession as a pilot and I have been careful not to let it go, because it has proven to be a reliable source of decent income and a good life for me and my family. I thrived to become the best I could be, and had excellent flying jobs and positions within my profession at a young age.
I raised a family, had two children that grew up to be fantastic adults, and now after four decades since I started flying, I am running out of reasons to continue doing what I am doing. It may not be that uncommon for human beings to become uninterested in whatever profession we chose after several decades pass, but professions do capture us in their grip, since no other job will grant us more immediate financial benefits than remaining in our profession. Because of this reason, in a way professions do limit us.
Professions give us a meaning, a place in life, and they are blessings with no doubt. We become Doctors Captains, Generals, Engineers, and Accountants. The titles or degree given to us eventually shape our lives, sometimes even beyond our comfort zone.
Every human being struggles with the same challenges. Some individuals do manage to become leaders on their field, examples to follow and people to admire by many but it seems that when this happens, sometimes the fire that kept the passion burning simply dies off. A good example of this was Steve Jobs, who was co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc., and the largest shareholder of Pixar Animation Studios. He became a member of The Walt Disney Company‘s board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar. This man led many of the most sought after and admired technological companies of our days. Often mentioned as an example, his words are followed with passion by many in a curious way as a business leader.
Perhaps his last testament is the most important lesson available to every human being. Just yesterday I received a forwarded message with Steve Jobs’ last words mentioned by him during the process of his illness, which I here include:
“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breathe of the god of death drawing closer.
Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth… should be something that is more important: perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.
Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth. The wealth I have won in my life, I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.
That’s the true riches that will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.
Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.
What is the most expensive bed in the world? Sick bed…you can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you, but you cannot have someone bear the sickness for you.
Material things lost can be found; but there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – Life.
When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – Book of Healthy Life. Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, and love for your friends. Treat yourself well. Cherish others.”
His words struck a chord in me because for many years I have been planning on leaving my profession for good. The decision to walk away is not easy, after decades of climbing up and building relatively safe resources to be able to survive simply during many years. The biggest trap is perhaps to think that what I make in one month could probably last me six months if I were to live a simple life, so this keeps me stuck to the same routine. This is a self-imposed trap.
What is interesting is that this process has been on-going for the last 17 years at least, and even today, I am still stuck in the wheels of my own wagon. If this continues without a change from my part, I will eventually reach my expiry date on this planet while still doing the same activities. I tend to think of myself as strong willed and determined, but this situation proves I am not.
The reason for this desire to restructure my life has been that for most of my lifetime I have placed my desire to immerse with all of my capacity into the love of God. I am aware that nothing in life is in conflict with God (how can it be if everything is essentially God?) but perhaps I would like to live a life that is more gentle, maybe closer to nature and focused around Him at all times and in all places, rather than being alienated by the endless technicalities and over regulated requirements of my profession. My being needs to be able to return to nature, to love, to meditation and prayer and to step away from technicalities. There are no goals within my profession that attract me anymore. I have been blessed by a full, successful professional life and all I feel for it now is gratitude, but no longer a desire of continued permanence.
During my Father’s last years, I did have the opportunity to meander weekly in forests around Mexico City on daily hikes, where God’s presence became such a strong reality that my life was marked for good. His strong presence shone on me through the intense colors of nature, the pine trees perfection and perfumed resins, the colorful and tiny flowers, the beauty of alpine vegetation at peaks that rose up to +14,000 feet above mean sea level. Yet I also chose a profession and had to give it a try. I think a period of over 40 years of doing so is more than enough.
Knowing that each of us is a very small extension of God Himself, I am very aware that all of His virtues and power reside within each of us in a much smaller scale; yet they do exist within us and can be enhanced by our decision in such a way that this proves we truly are the engineers of our own lives, often shaping our experiences, our immediate surroundings and even the presence of our acquaintances. We are never victims, we are creators and more importantly, we have all been blessed by this gift called life. In the same way we can generate an illness when our thoughts and emotions are wrong, we can also heal an illness when they are right; this capacity to dwell within the fields where miracles happen, has taught me that we are truly limitless beings because God is our essence.
During these last four decades, I have visualized desired material belongings, professional achievements, remote places to move to and work from in under abundant conditions and it has all been granted to me. I have stretched my health to levels that represent easily half my age, I have achieved everything I ever wanted; but I cannot pull out of this trend that has lasted for many years like a stuck thorn. Work has been my life but there is no more fire when I fly or when I manage. I must now give myself the gift of change, where I can direct my energy and capacity on matters that are also important, but that have been held back while I was still busy building and achieving professional and personal goals.
Knowing we each have the power to steer our lives towards most of the goals we choose (this is a very real truth about our own capabilities); I decide today to give back the control yoke of my aircraft to God. He will make the best choices for me based on what is better for my heart and soul; He knows me better than I ever will. I choose to continue to live in joy and abundance, but I will no longer force my steps to climb steep hills or run non-stop at full speed for days, weeks and months pursuing goals and plans that are not interesting to me and are not mine anymore.
I am giving back my life to God, knowing that my paths will be blessed and that my choices will never be better than His are. I am not giving up, but simply choosing to stop running against my own essence. I know that through my life, God has always granted me a myriad of blessings, and I do want His Grace to continue, but now I am changing my flight plan from the commercial and pre-established airways, to random airspace, engaging the autopilot and letting His winds take me along for the best trips yet of my life. I am stepping out from my four decades long routine and risking flying solo again towards Him. I have landed in so many airports and visited endless cities and countries… I know He will lead me to greener pastures and a better quality of life.
I am aware that there is an element of risk on what I am doing, but I must listen to my soul and my heart; I must follow up. It is an adventure for sure, but this is also what life is supposed to be about.
Which paths and experiences will I experience from now on? Only God knows.