• gauri nadkarni choudhary

The Delayed Flight


Have you ever been in a plane which is stuck on a runway? There are too many planes ahead of you and yours can’t take off before they do. You are in your seat, belt tightly around you just awaiting your flight to take off. Stuck in the middle seat, you probably wonder why is it always your flight that is last in the queue? In your head you blame the airline, the pilot and the crew, deep within knowing that it not their fault.


The plane finally starts to move, at a snail’s pace at first and then suddenly it soars to the sky at a speed that you hardly have time to brace yourself. Your stomach sinks and you feel slightly sick but then you are finally flying. You sit back in content and feel as if you are in the middle of clouds. If you are lucky, you might even see a rainbow.


All of a sudden, the pilot announces that there is turbulence ahead and the seat belt sign comes on again. As you bump through the sky you regret ever taking a flight. You tell yourself you would take the train the next time, a slower and safer option. Then the turbulence passes, the flight is smooth and you realize how much taking this flight meant to you. It will take you to the destination you waited for a long time.

This flight is just like your dream goal, something you wanted to do for a very long time. Something that was on your bucket list for long. We all have a dream goal which goes beyond our ordinary day to day life. Every now and then we are reminded of that goal.


This flight of your dreams was stuck behind too many other things; responsibilities and duties. Every time you wanted to work on this dream, another responsibility would take priority and this one would go at the very end of the queue. It became the last priority. Every time you thought of working on this dream you felt caught in the middle of work and home. There was just no scope or time to move. You cursed life, society and the world, but deep down you knew they were not at fault.


What is important to remember is that a delayed flight does not mean a cancelled flight. We do not get off the flight just because it is stuck on the runway. We just await its turn. Can we do the same with our goals? Why do we need to cancel them just because they were delayed?


I met this woman in her sixties. We needed to fix an appointment for her husband. She said she could come only on Saturdays, she had college on the weekdays. At the age of sixty, she had decided to pursue her Masters in literature. She told me that she wants to pursue her doctorate later. She got married early, first children and later unwell family members took precedence over her dream of studying. She put all these responsibilities ahead of her degree but she never gave up on her dream. Her flight was finally in the air and she was all set to take the connecting one too.


Another woman, mother of a special child, decided to learn salsa. She had started taking her child to a dance class for special children and realized how much she enjoyed dancing. While there were many flights ahead of her, she made exception for this special flight of hers and joined dance class. She did well enough to have a dance studio of her own. She took her child with her to the studio and managed both the roles.


There are many such examples around us, stories of inspiration, where the person did not give up on their dreams and waited patiently for the go ahead to take flight.


We often lose sight of this flight because it is taking too long to take off. We believe that it is now too late to fly; we are too old, too tired, too busy to take this flight. We think a delayed flight will not bring the same kind of happiness or a sense of achievement. Think again!! A delayed flight finally taking off after a long wait… how many times we have cheered when this happens.


I met a lady who had too many flights in the way of her dream of solo travel. Family, children, responsibilities all were ahead in the queue. She thought she was too old to travel. She did not believe in her ability to fly anymore. She was all set to cancel her flight, when she made one final attempt. Her dream flight finally soared and she went ahead on a solo trip, made fabulous friends and had the time of her life. The runway was finally cleared for her dreams.


Often our immediate thought is that these people are one of the lucky few. Their flight took off without any further problems. This is just our assumption. These people did not just take off on their dreams but also sat through the turbulence.


All goals hit obstacles and bumps of air. The old woman who was in her Masters program found it difficult to relate to her much younger classmates. She found that learning was difficult for her at this age. She took longer to complete her assignments. It was a rough ride, but it was a ride that she was prepared for. She waited the initial turbulence, befriended her classmates and took their help to complete her work. In return she helped them with her life experiences and fabulous cooking.


The dancer had more severe turbulence. There were times she couldn’t find a babysitter, or sometimes she was just too exhausted. There were times when she couldn’t keep pace with the vigour of the class. How did she get through? It was actually the delay that pushed her to persist. She had waited too long to now give up!


While working with a person with flight phobia, I helped him deal with several of his ‘what if’ fears. We discussed the fear of an air crash and turbulence and even a possible hijack. We broke down each situation in to smaller situations and worked on over coming the fear of each situation. We tested the probability of each of his ‘what ifs’ and discarded them.


Just like him we all have flight phobia for our dreams. We are plagued with a million ‘what ifs’ even before starting. What if I take off on a dream project and it crashes, what if someone steals my idea, what if I hit obstacles?? Perhaps we should deal with these the same way as the flight phobia. Look into the probability of each step and try to eliminate the risk factors. Life has no guarantees, but it didn’t have them at twenties either.


When you sit in a flight, you put your faith in the pilots and the crew, who are trained to take the flight to their destination. These are unknown people, people you have never met. The pilots and the crew of your dream goals is you, yet there is a lack of trust. Is it really hard to trust yourself?


Life has given us enough training to deal with all kinds of turbulence. There is no better pilot for your dreams than your faith in yourself.


Take that flight, wait your turn, sit out that turbulence and in the end, you will soar through the clouds….




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