The title “The Gift” comes from a poem I wrote about my first flight and my first solo later on. The poem is also entitled “The Gift” and it states that I consider my love of flying as a gift from God, because it gave me a direction for my life. The book title came from this stanza:
Until that moment my life was aimless,
With no real goals in sight
The Lord gave me a gift that day
His Gift was the love of flight.
I have been told that my story is multi-faceted and that there are several lessons to be learned from it. I was not aware of that as I wrote it. I just wrote about the things I was involved in, starting at a very young age. For example: By the time I was fifteen I was driving my father’s tractors, driving a car, flying an airplane, playing high school football and baseball, dating girls, serving as an Altar Boy, and trying to keep up in school.
I believe this story could teach this generation that their possibilities are limitless, if they are willing to sacrifice to achieve things. It takes a lot of self-discipline to be able to successfully juggle as many things as I did, and self-discipline is one thing that is woefully lacking in today’s generation. Determination, drive, discipline, tenacity, resilience (the ability to bounce back after disappointments) are all essential elements of being successful.
The only “reward” we got from failure back in my youth was this – it gave us a chance to try again from a new direction. It also gave us a chance to overcome that failure and that built up our confidence each time we did it.
I feel the opportunities are still out there, but they are just harder to find. They do not fall in your lap as maybe they once did. To encounter that opportunity you have to be out there looking for it, and then you have to be proactive and put yourself in a position to take advantage of any opportunity that you encounter.
I can hear the questions resounding now – “How do we do that?” Well, to put yourself in a position for something you must be prepared for it when it comes around. I wanted a career in the Air Force or an Airline job, and I started preparing for that at a very young age. By the time I applied at Delta Air Lines, I had been flying fifteen years and had amassed over thirty-three hundred hours of flying time. When my opportunity came I had what Delta wanted.
Knowing what you want to do in life is the other facet of that. I went to Catholic school for the first seven years of my academic career. We used to say a daily prayer for “Vocations.” Of course we were praying that some of us would go into the priesthood or become nuns. But a vocation simply means a life’s goal or purpose. Immediately after I took my first flight, I KNEW that flying was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. That is expressed in another stanza from my poem entitled The Gift:
Excitement, fear, confusion, joy
Are part of that first flight
But most of all the truth was there
And God it felt so right.
I said the following prayer as we taxied in from that flight, “Dear Lord, I now know what I want to do with my life. If it is Your Holy Will for me, please let me be a pilot.” Apparently my request was His Will for me, because, for the next forty-five years I was a pilot and I reached the pinnacle of my profession as a Senior Captain on Delta Air Lines, one of the premier airlines in the world.
If what you ask for is God’s Will for you, there is NOTHING that will keep you from achieving it. You may have to try and try again, but you will get there eventually. If it is not in His will and you persist in doing it anyway, then you may reach your goal but it will not bring you the satisfaction you thought it would.
What I am trying to say is this: If we try to live our lives always keeping God as a major part of it, and striving to live it according to His Will, then we will be successful and our lives will be blessed. I know mine sure has been.