Putting the Nose Down Fearlessly

This week, a fighter jet pilot lands his disabled plane….nose to stool.



The pilot, Captain William Mahoney….we’ll call him Cap’n Will…..gave an interview that told the story of taking off and immediately knowing that something was wrong with his nose gear. The landing gear became inoperable. This is a floating situation where alternative landings are in the…um…ocean.

So, what does Cap’n Will do? He flies past the tower, where there is another fighter pilot watching. The second jet pilot looks during the fly by and confirms that the landing gear is unworkable. What to do.

Well, it seems that there is an amazing invention that looks like a stool and is secured to the ships landing platform. I assume that it is not kept in the open per usual, because the pilot didn’t seem too aware of it. The premise is this: a pilot of a freakin’ fighter jet…think roaring, fast, alarming…….hovers over the landing platform to execute a vertical landing. Like a helicopter.

The pilot has to trust completely in the community on board. He couldn’t even see the stool. He was guided in and lowered this hovering jet built for speed, and brought it down to 20 feet over the deck…..at which point….he DROPPED the plane.

He put the nose down fearlessly as it dropped perfectly onto the stool. You’ll see in the video that there were a couple of bounces. Perfectly done. He landed a fighter jet on the side of a boat, in a way he had never done before.

Watch the interview. It is a powerful testament to preparing, readiness, routine.

Cap’n Will said that they drill and drill and drill to perfect an exact landing. On the carriers there is no room for error. It was that drilling, that allowed him to do what needed to be done…..to put the nose down fearlessly.

What are you doing to put your nose down fearlessly? What are you drilling day after day, to prepare you for the ordinary and for the unworkable moments?

What do you say to yourself over and over and over……what are you preparing for……as you captain your daily living?

…I can’t do this

…Others are so lucky

…Look what she’s got

…Why does this always happen to me?

…When is my break?

…I’m a fraud and everyone knows it


……and on the drilling goes. We land our psyches and souls perfectly on the platforms prepared for the worst, the unfair, the lowest within ourselves. But this is not about changing your mantras to something happier. It is more than just thinking differently……it is about a four-fold balance that jets us to the edge of change and the next level.

What drills do you give your mind: The mantras you repeat to yourself

What drills do you give your emotions: Repression or allowance for their expression

What drills do you give your vision/spirit: Limited or Unbounded

What drills do you give your body: Couch or Movement

When we tend to on a daily basis….when we drill for perfect landings……out of all four areas, we prepare for our higher selves, readying ourselves for our top performance.

I’m just beginning to get this. A great book “Language of Emotions” by Karla McLaren, brings this balance forward. My mind is absorbing it, my emotions are finding a free flow, my vision/spirit looks far and wide, my body is moving again.

All four are intelligences that we can rely on. All four deserve attention, drills, focus. They come together on the razor’s edge.

We do this because life throws us unworkable landing gear.

….our parents die

….our friends move

….our bodies become weak

….we lose our jobs

….the one we love leaves

….our belief system crumbles

We have the opportunity every day to bring this four-fold force into play…with every conversation or task….to ask our emotions “What are you feeling”, because emotions move trauma through and out of our systesm. To ask our vision “What is possible in this?” because our vision reveals what is possible. To ask our minds “What do you tihnk?”, because our minds handle the details. To ask our bodies “How will we move through this?” because our bodies do the soaring.

And it all comes together when the landing gear fails.

Oh, but what about that other jet pilot in the tower? Yes, we cultivate community that is trustworthy and knowledgeable. And what about the people on the platform? Where were they? They had been cleared away, in case there had been a problem.

That means our community helps us, guides us, informs us, is with us….until they need to step back so the danger we are facing does not also take them down. Cap’n Will did not feel let down that he was ultimately alone for the landing. It was his to do. Success or failure….platform or sea…..life or death.

What I love the most is Cap’n Will’s words toward the end of the interview. He said that he didn’t know how scared he was until the landing was over and he had to sit in the cockpit for a full minute trying to remember how to turn the jet off.

…remember how to turn the jet off.

I love that. He drilled on all the hard stuff, and when he met the challenge of a disabled landing, the part he couldn’t do was to turn of off the jet. Because after it was over, his body emotions vision and mind worked together to move the trauma out of his whole self so that he could go on….to the next drill or the next unexpected challenge. His body shook so that the intensity of the situation wouldn’t find a home in his bones. And he just let his whole system do its job, just as he had done his.

We are all jets….sleek with speed. We are all Cap’n(s)…..preparing for what can not be anticipated. We are all guiding each other to the alternative landings, getting out of the way for the job to get done, and then running back in to hold on, celebrate, fix the gear. We are all smiling, shaking messes when we have met the unknown and lived to tell about it.

Our highest selves aren’t always in OM mode or chill mode. Our highest selves are always in life mode, ready to show us what we’ve got.







I am reading reading reading these days. Reading Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr. Reading the Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren. And, of course, doing deep soul work on behalf of those who are open.


And they are all saying the same thing. I love it when that happens. One of the times this happened for me was a Spring semester when I was in seminary in Chicago. It must have been 1991. I took a course on counseling practices, Jungian dream interpretation, field ed, and had just had Turner. I felt like I was living out of the depths of Spirit, where our human experience rarely takes us, or where we simply don’t stay too long. It was fantastic. Everything came together.


In these days I am reading about false self and true self, reading about how our emotions are not simply responses but are active participants in this human living that have jobs to do. Jobs that take us to that deep well of Spirit where we get glimpses of what is actually real.

In these days, I am also waiting alongside my husband as his father nears death. It is an unpredictable path….this day or next week…..living with the deepest of gratitude to two brother-in-laws who are doing the heavy lifting of sitting vigil and sorting papers and creating options for the future.


In these days, I am also moving alongside the good people I attend church with. Our congregation is in a mixed bag of life and death, forward or done, this way or that.


It is all about the false self and the true self. It is all about grief and letting go. It is all about our emotions used either to lead us (which they likely should not do) rather than to deepen the holy way.

Rohr writes in the Immortal Diamond that our false self is what we have cloaked ourselves with to survive, protect, to live in this world. It is not a bad self or a wrong self. It is simply the mortal self, says Rohr. The part that one day will die. I agree. The true self is that which aligns in the flow of sacredness and lives on. An ease, a joy, a lightness even in the midst of strokes and congregational confusion and whatever you are facing this day.


How do we get there? Indeed, that is a good question. But there is no there. There is no getting. It is already. And you know it.


You know those times when it feels like the veil has parted and you are peering into the vastness of possibility and you can’t wait to jump in.


You know it when when you luck out and get what you want.


You know it when you realize you’ve moved closer to your truest self, and there is a dying of a few friendships because they’ve moved too or have not. And somehow, that has to be ok.


When we live, something dies.


And that is not all bad.


Siting at the bedside of my Father-in-law, we all knew he was aware we were there. I don’t want to read too much into things, or simply interpret them out of a hopefulness. There was distress and pain at times for sure….we saw it cross his face. But there was a healing that he was undertaking and offering to each of us. The tenderness and love that emanated from his trapped body was tangible. His great granddaughter held his hand and wept for her loss…..while we thought he was sleeping with deep sleeping breaths and snores. But he was not sleeping. His body was doing what it would without much cognitive control, but he was awake even when the signs said sleep. He was stroking her hand with his thumb. Later, he did it to my hand as well. I felt him in the thumbs movement. There was no mistaking what was taking place.


And that is one of the marks of the true self. When we are alert and aware. Not in hyper-vigilance of self protection….but in utter letting go and being in the flow of the sacred. We might appear one way on the outside, but there is no mistaking what is taking place inside.

I want to live that way every day.


Who knows. Maybe I’m making it all up to make myself feel good.


But I don’t think so. I make my way in this world reading and feeling the energy that people are putting forward. It is what I do out of my true self. When I’m in my false self then I am led by my friend “ego” who shows up to protect my false self while I still live in this physical world. Ego is my teacher and I can tell when she is at peace, because she has her feet up, head back, letting the sun in with no worries.


You know this is true. I know you do. You might use different words than I am using here. Words like salvation, resurrection, atonement, detachment,……yes yes yes to all of these things. And many other words and images and stories and metaphors.


Our physical 3D world is not set up to easily find our truest selves. We need guides, accompaniers, soul realigners, makers of way. I know a whole slew of fabulous spiritual directors, shamans, healers if you want a list so you can make contact. You can engage with s spiritual friend where you divide your time and focus one for the other. There are many ways to do this work. This glorious work. And it is work. It is hard, until it is not.


Test the flow, the stuck, the resistance….those are your friends in this work. Your teachers. Pay attention. They are always telling you something. Test your body…what aches, what is inflamed, what is not letting go? Today my lymph nodes in my throat are swollen and I believe it is because in my care to hear other people in my congregation speak of their dreams or woes, I am speaking my own dreams and woes as if on a leash, held back, not fully true. Today, I plan to speak boldly…not over someone else, not to negate anyone else, but as the Quakers say, if I am given something to speak and I do not, I am not acting faithfully (ok, I don’t know if the Quakers would say it like that). I will speak in love because I’m tired of this sore throat. I will let it go with kindness and without ego attachment to the outcome. And I will listen and hear others. And when ego throws a blanket over my truest self, I will know it…and it will be yet another moment to learn.


Everyday, we are given ample opportunity to be so much more. Our guides and teachers and friends are all around, and often they are already a part of us.


May you be so much more.




all images come from google images and from other original sources not my own