Monday, May 01, 2006

Sunshine On Our Wings

I’m composing this by hand as I ride American Airlines flight 1883 back to Dallas. I’m writing in a small notebook that I keep inside my running backpack. Inside the pages of the notebook are details of workouts; timed runs across various distances with specified rest periods of duration dependent on the intent of the workout.

The written information represents the details. A timed chronology of the planned preparation to run fast.

The flight tonight is only 2/3 full, a rarity these days. Outside the plane’s window the clouds that exist at 33,000 feet are being placed behind us at 550 miles per hour. It could be 30 miles per hour for all I am able to gauge by casual observation.

This marvel of transportation was also planned by reason and the calculation of numbers, just as the workouts have been planned. Before you think I am on task to discuss mechanical engineering let me assure I am headed another direction altogether.

As I told you in the comments section of the last post, my track team enjoyed the great feeling this weekend that comes with a first place finish at Penn Relays.

Success comes in many forms. How we define success is often the only true measure that can quantify its presence or absence in our individual lives.

More mystifying to me are the non-reasoned and unexpected signals that can precede our happiness and success. Numbers and reason are exceptional predictors of and foreshadowers of the truth in individual performance. But I have also known for a handful of years that non-reasoned forces can also foreshadow an event.

A case in point in my life came 3 years ago in the Denver Airport. I was catching a connecting flight to Boise, Idaho for the indoor national championships track meet.

As I passed under a skylight a warm beam of sunlight seared through the glass overhead, spreading across my chest and face in a veritable warm hug of good omen. It was powerful enough to make me smile and mentally record the circumstances. I performed at a personal best level in Boise that weekend.

Six months later I was in the Denver Airport once again catching a connecting flight, this time to Edmonton, Canada to compete in the World Masters Games. Without remembering the previous Denver incident I hurried down one of the moving walkways late for the flight to Edmonton. The same quick sun from above the skylight interrupted my thoughts with an identical penetrating warm bright light. This time I took it for a signal. I packed the memory and confidence of its reappearance in my pocket and hustled toward the airplane. Once again I established personal best times during the meet in Edmonton.

This past Thursday, as those of you that read here regularly know, I boarded a plane to Philadelphia concerned about performing my job with a relay team and wrestling with a bit of anxiety. We moved down the runway and eventually left the surface in that familiar high speed rush into the sky.

The nose of the plane was trained on its ascent, pushing passengers backward into their seats. I frowned and worried. Philadelphia and pressure awaited me on the other end of the flight. Ten minutes into the flight on a mid-afternoon over North Texas the pilot banked the wings on my side toward the sky as he maneuvered into his intended course.

I leaned left with the tilt and looked out the window at the plane’s uplifted wing. In the same quick instant it has taken each time, the wing caught the sun and flashed it into my eyes. I closed them at the blinding light. When I reopened them the sun was across my face and chest, the same warm omen. In another moment it was gone again. I smiled a very large smile. My mind became calm. My anxiety was ushered into the sunset.

This was the external signal I knew; an old friend paying another visit. It’s a friend as real as the numbers and reason inside this notebook. To me it is as real as the aerospace engineering of an airplane. It always comes when I am not searching for it or expecting it. And I have learned it means good things for me. And yes, there are times it does not come at all.

I don’t really understand it. Perhaps I never will.

Nevertheless I will continue to hope and trust for my non-reasoned truth to come again.

We all need a little sunshine on our wings, do we not?

Penn Relays at Franklin Field, Philadelphia - 2006

I'll post some other photos of Philadelphia and the trip this week. For now, I'm going to bed!


patti_cake said...

Yes I firmly believe we all need a little sunshine on our wings. Again congratulations Rick and hope you are well rested this Monday morning and walking on air with pride in your accomplishment!

Jenn said...

That's awesome. I love it when that happens....and it's even better when we recognize it.'d it go in Philly?

Angie said...

Congratulations! You should be very proud.

Isn't it funny that when we actively look for our "little sign" is usually when we don't see it.

Seven said...

You are always so supportive. Here is a toast to sunshine on YOUR wings.

We won!

Like I said I may never understand; but I like that I now know it when I see it!

Grant said...

Congratulations on your victory. I never doubted you, of course. Even though that sunlight thing is weird and unnatural. I always view a cold, overcast day as a good omen.

Normally I'm not one to solicit comments, but I wrote a post while you were gone and I hoped you could share some of your insights due to your law enforcement background (of which I would love to see anecdotes blogged here, btw). It's kind of long, but if you have the time I'd like to hear your point of view.

Reach said...

The outward recognition is always joyously received. It is of the inward achievement that I speak; congratulations for your success and the ability to "raise the bar" on your anticipated results.

In flight, we keep our 'FLIGHT-Log books' available to count and relive journeys of the past. As I read today, I can see you also carry a log book. Is it not amazing, how you can teach your body to remember the "warm Solarium embrace", as your mind opens the "log book". Something to hold before each event, that will twist the nerves into the bundle that was once self-security in performance.

again, Congratulations


Seven said...

Thanks and for you, in that case, I wish you many cloudy days.

Yes the idea that our inner has to merge with the external logs of reason is exactly where I wanted to go. Nice interpretation.