You know joy. It’s uncovered in milliseconds throughout your day when you are so in-tune with what you’re doing— and love it.
Two things recently gave me joy, that have always given me joy, but have gotten lost in the day-to-day doldrum of operations: flying an airplane, and practicing yoga.
One morning this week, I stood in my kitchen on my navy blue yoga mat, one that I bought while living in St. Louis. It has traveled with me all over, in each city since, and even to retreats. It’s home in a way that no other rubber rectangle could ever be. I had just been accepted to a Yoga Teacher Training in New Orleans (as previously posted!), and out of the excitement, I jumped on my mat. The thing is, when I’m practicing yoga in my kitchen with no one around, I don’t have a plan. No flow, no sequence, not even a semblance of structure. I just do what feels right— of course, that’s sort of why I’m going to get trained in how to conjure up a class. As I hit Warrior II and transitioned back to Peaceful Warrior, I was overcome: rooted deeply in the earth and extending into the sky, I was the conductor of energy, a sorcerer at work.
My coffee pot gurgled, and I retreated to my loveseat to start reading the books I need to finish before going to class (in January, but I’m eager). As my eyes glided over the words, soaking up the sentiment, I realized that this was effortless. There wasn’t barrier or burden.
At least once per trip, I try to click off the automation (autopilot AND autothrottles) to fly based on “raw data,” meaning there’s no guidance— just a pure scan of the instruments. It’s important to do this for many reasons: if the automation fails at some point, you’re ready with skill. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
Yesterday, we were cruising on into Portland, and my captain chided me, “You’re not going to land flaps full for Harambe?” pointing to an inside joke on our airplane. I decided no. But we were halfway through our day, and I decided to turn everything off and fly it my damn self. The power was in my hands, quite literally, as I turned and descended toward the runway, which was obscured by clouds. It occurred to me that we fly these multi-million dollar jets with all the bells and whistles, yet it operates under the same physics laws with which even a small Cessna complies. Cute!
It’s a thrill, though, to have that moment between man and machine— an intimate connection that demands trust and a bit of romance.
We popped out of the clouds, the runway revealing itself amidst a green field along the Columbia river. “50, 40, 30, 20, 10,” the airplane spoke at a smooth cadence, and we touched the ground— softly lowering the nose, and throwing out the thrust reversers, I gave my captain the controls as he taxied off the runway. I exhaled with a smirk. “That was fun!”
Day-in-and-day-out, the routine tires. Cities blur together, and hotels can never match my own bed— but it’s the tiny moments, the ones where you feel like you’re surfing on bliss, that make the ordinary extraordinary. Neither of these moments were particularly explosive. Mostly, they’re banal snippets from my everyday life. But I chose to see them as magic! And making that choice isn’t easy— some days I straight up refuse. The days I do, however, magic happens.
How do you find your joy?