This week marks the beginning of the traditional national tendency to reflect on the year gone by. It all starts at Thanksgiving, when we identify specific moments, events, objects, and relationships we appreciate most. Then we transition into Christmastime when we tend to recognize how good we’ve got it, no matter how many material things are still missing from our lives. And it all closes out on New Year’s Eve when we flirt with the year gone by one final time, before shifting our sights to the future and the nearly limitless opportunities that lie ahead of us.
Like you, I have a lot to be thankful for. Admittedly, I’ve had disappointments and challenges both professionally and personally this year. But that’s nothing compared to the Japanese families who were washed out of their lifestyles and, in many cases, their lives, by a tsunami that roared ashore with little warning, or the flooding in Queensland, Australia, that caused such massive damage earlier in the year, the rash of tornados that swept through the midwest, or the earthquake in New Zealand.
My challenges are small potatoes in comparison. They had to do with a tighter budget than usual, a slew of unfinished household projects, my constant wrestling with ever fewer free hours to spend with my family, and a persistent wish that I owned an airplane that I could fly at will, which I do not.
Those are all real annoyances that I truly do tussle with on a regular basis. Which just goes to show how fortunate I am. Not once this year did I have to wonder seriously if I would miss a meal, or lose my house, or wake up to find my car repossessed. I’ve got it pretty darned good. Truthfully, for all our complaining (and believe me, I can complain with the best of them) we Americans are lucky to have Thanksgiving built into our calendar, because we’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
After a bit of introspection and reflection, it seems reasonable that those few of us who are fortunate enough to have elbowed our way into the world of general aviation can only come to the conclusion that we’re some of the most fortunate people to have ever lived in the entire history of humanity.
Granted, I may not fly as often as I wish I could — but I can fly! That’s pretty remarkable, all things considered. What’s more, I’ve had the astoundingly proud experience of packing my youngest daughter into an airplane this year to send her off on flight lessons that she absolutely loved. Knowing that another generation of pilots, mechanics, and general aviation business owners is waiting patiently to take their place at the head of the table is a real comfort to me. Because I love this business.
To be clear, avaition hasn’t made me wealthy, and the odds are good that it never will. So what? I didn’t get into this line of work for the money. I got into it for the personal and professional satisfaction it brings me. And it has done that to a degree that is far beyond anything I ever could have dreamed. So I will share with you a few of the things I’m thankful for this year, as we enter the reflective season. Hopefully, you can be equally pleased, proud, and thankful for the accomplishments, gifts, and friendships that have graced your life this year.
I’m thankful for:
- General Aviation News, which allows me the opportunity to spout off on virtually any topic I choose to write about, every week of the year. Ben Sclair, Janice Wood, and the whole crew have earned my eternal thanks for how well they’ve treated me — yet again!
- The Civil Air Patrol, which accepted my youngest daughter into their ranks and then followed up by providing her with a stellar opportunity to better herself and learn something about the business of being a leader.
- The City of Winter Haven, and Polk County, Florida. It is here in the center of the universe that I have been fortunate enough to make a home, and work in aviation, as well as politics, in an effort to truly make a difference that will be beneficial and far reaching.
- Dr. Irvin Gleim, who still produces some of the most concise and effective training materials on the market, and because he allows me to have a hand in that process.
- My wife, who married me knowing that I would never be like other husbands who go to work and come home again on a predictable schedule, yet she sticks with me even after 22 years of being almost completely unpredictable and at least borderline unreliable as a result.
- And perhaps most of all, I am thankful for truly, honestly believing that things will continue to improve for most of us, no matter what the headlines say, or how much spin the talking heads on television put on the circumstances of the day.
I’m a lucky guy this Thanksgiving. Bu then I’m a lucky guy every Thanksgiving. I work in a field I truly enjoy being a part of, my family has not yet realized that they could do much better if they traded me in on a younger, hipper, more mellow model, and I get the opportunity to write about ideas, experiences, and hopes that are genuinely important to me right here, every week.
Sure, I could find something to gripe about if I really worked at it. But what’s the point? I’m living my dream, as we all should. There’s just not that much to be upset about when you get right down to it. Get up, do something you love, then get some sleep. In the morning, do it all again.
That’s the only recipe for happiness I know. So far it seems to be working just fine. In fact, I recommend it highly. Add it to your holiday menu if you’d like. Then I’ll have one more thing to be thankful for next year.
Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport. He is also a founding partner and regular contributor to FlightMonkeys.com. You can reach him at Jamie@GeneralAviationNews.com.