Monday, April 6, 2009

Straighten Up and Fly Right!

I used to hear that phrase, "straighten up and fly right," when I was a young boy. I haven't thought of it in many years, but it is so, so true. Of course, it has a double meaning, yet both meanings are all about attitude, so really it has a single meaning, and many applications.

In flying an airplane (where this phrase came from), it is all about attitude: your plane's attitude relative to the environment. In the case of flying, everything about attitude is related to the horizon. When you are flying right, you are flying level with the horizon and have all options open. They call that straight and level. As a pilot you always need to know where your plane is relative to the horizon, even when you can't see the horizon. In this case, you rely on an instrument called the artificial horizon to graphically show you your plane's attitude relative to the real horizon. It is easier than you might think to get disoriented in the air.

As in the air, in life, it is all about attitude. What is my attitude relative to where I want to be? Also as in the air, it is very easy to get disoriented and start paying attention to the events and opinions all around you and forget about your plane's attitude relative to the horizon, or where you want to be. This causes disorientation and confusion. It's easy to see it this way for me.

The answer then is for me to focus. I need to focus on my attitude relative to what I want. If I'm looking all around at events and opinions, much of which I do not want, I become disoriented and I feel it in my emotions. I feel bad, or unsure, or angry, or scared. Feeling any of those emotions, is an indicator that I need to straighten up and fly right! When my attitude is relative to what I want, I feel good, joyous, encouraged, or inspired. I particularly like being inspired. There is nothing at all like it. It is really beyond joy even.

The interesting thing to learn is that we always have so much more control than we think we do. If you were a pilot and you got disoriented, you wouldn't just quit trying. You would straighten up and fly right. They teach you how to do that in pilot training--even with blinders on! (Really, it's called a hood. It allows you to see the instruments, but you cannot see outside of the plane.) It's a requirement to successfully be able to straighten up and fly right several times before you can even get a license. Yet, in life, we just are not generally taught this, let alone have to demonstrate it successfully.

Even as a new pilot must learn it, in life we must learn to straighten up and fly right or suffer the alternatives. The information is here and it has always been here. It is your emotions. If you are feeling bad, scared, angry, unsure, these are the indicators that your attitude is disoriented. You are focusing on what you do not want. Your inner self, like the airplane's artificial horizon, helps you see the need to change your attitude. Once you are aware and awakened, you can recover, and get your attitude aligned with what you do want rather than what you don't want. Focus on what you want even if you cannot actually see the horizon. Trust the instrument inside you as a pilot must trust the artificial horizon. Straighten up and fly right!

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