I think the best part about Portugal is the time to think.
For the first time in a long time, I have had enough time to just sit and have time to think. Of course, I guess the time is always there. But I found it so difficult back in the States to use that time for thinking. It seemed that there was always an errand to be run, a game to be watched, or a mile to be ran. I just never sat down long enough or consistently enough to think.
So what am I thinking about?! Haha...you name it, it has probably crossed my mind. I have thought about everything from traveling to people back in the States to money to future plans to girls to skills I have to what trades I can learn....and on and on and on.
As of late, I have really been focused upon what to do in my next phase of life...especially on the job front. I had desired to teach English over here, and I pursued that goal with what I had available...I talked to an English teacher from London, I went to English schools in Portugal, I tried to make connections with a teacher in Portugal, and I spent hours on the internet trying to figure out what exactly I needed to teach.
But as time wore on, I became less and less interested with that idea. Not that I have put it aside completely...it’s just that something else has come and taken its place. I cannot stop thinking about being a pilot. Night and day, that is what I keep coming back to. I have now had my Private’s Pilot’s license for four years, and yet I have minimal hours because I would always focus my money on paying down debt or on motorcycles or something else! And my flights always ended up being labeled AAA-AAA. I would fly from Lincoln to Lincoln...for sake of time and money. An occasional flight would land me in Champaign...or Springfield...or Bloomington...but they were few and far between.
And then in 2005 and 2006, when I was better able to fly time and money-wise, I was often unable to fly physically. I found myself in and out of a cast on my leg, sometimes for months at a time. And then I found myself in a cast on my arm...for more weeks. I need both arms and both legs to fly.
I would slowly add hours to my logbook, but they were essentially minimal in terms of it all. I was only flying to stay current...I would have to fly once every three months to keep currency. I would fly once at night to stay current there. And then right before I left, I remember being a little bit nervous as I went to have my 2nd bi-annual flight review. I was to fly with an instructor to make sure that I was proficient. I passed with flying colors (pun intended!!!), and I realized how much I love flying again.
I sat in a hangar, and I listened to the planes coming in and taking off. I would watch the different styles of aircraft in the skies. I would talk to other pilots who all had the same passion as me. I talked with a guy about owning an airplane together. But what sticks out the most in my mind is me sitting in that hangar, with the breeze blowing all the way through, watching planes on the ramp and in the skies. And I loved it.
But I couldn’t think too much about that because I was leaving in just a few weeks! I even remember being cautious about how much money I spent on the aircraft rental, though because it was the only one available, I rented a brand-new LightSport with a glass cockpit! If that means nothing to you, then know that it was a brand-new six-figure airplane with computers instead of the old instruments! It was fancy! And I loved it!
But I was leaving soon!
Looking back now, it is pretty easy for me to see my passion for flying. When I went to Mexico a couple of weeks before leaving for my trip, I stepped inside the cockpit of the jet we were flying. I talked with the pilots, asked what it would take to further my training, and then took my seat. But I never really felt like I was ready for that.
Then I left for Europe. And I found myself in airports. And time and time again, I found myself watching the Captains as they pulled their briefcase and stickers of countries visited behind them. Sometimes I thought it would be a rough life, but I also found myself fascinated with these men and women. They were flying!
And then several weeks later I found myself in London. I was staying with a guy who used to be a flight attendant. He has visited 48 countries, and he could identify every single airplane that was flying over our heads into London. He had been on most types! And when he realized that I was a pilot, airplanes and pilot talk soon became our norm. We were dreaming together!
He would talk about his dream of becoming a pilot, and for the first time, because of talking to me, I saw his dream become within his reach. We talked about the financial part of it, and I could almost literally see a switch go off in his head. He realized that he could actually become a pilot. And more than that, he could become his dream: a Captain. And his words were contagious. He had a passion that could only be fulfilled if pursued.
And I think he stirred up that often-dormant passion within me...
But I had to move on. From London I moved to Portugal. More airports. And I was again fascinated with them all. Looking back, I now see myself watching the flights come into Faro, Portugal! I walked to the end of the runway, and they would fly just feet overhead! (And now come to think of it, when I was in Glasgow, Scotland, I took a bicycle ride out to the hills....and I stopped to take pictures of airplanes flying over my head!). I am just fascinated with flying!
So there I found myself in Portugal. Beautiful sun. Beautiful people. Beautiful beaches. And a life that is highly-desired but foreign to me. Slow. Relaxed. Peaceful. And the funny part is that things still get done! I have cleared the weeds around the pond, I have cleared the weeds from the island, I have fixed a broken mower, I have mowed the lawn, and I have worked on an electrical system. And somewhere in there I have enjoyed a brunch on a patio, enjoyed a Sunday afternoon meal with 15 others, enjoyed a campfire under the stars, been to the beach a couple of times, visited with people from church, enjoyed a lunch in twon on a patio, gone shopping numerous times, enjoyed a couple of outside patio suppers, and enjoyed a couple of futbol games in the beer hut with Germans. And to think that all of this took place in one week. In a culture where things are “slow.” And I have time to think, to sit and relax, to sit in the sun, to lay on the beach, and to write and study. In a culture where things are “slow.”
I love Portugal because it has given me time. Time to think. Time to visit. Time to work. Time to relax. Time to enjoy life.
So, again, there I am in Portugal. With time. And I came back to this whole pilot idea. I started doing my research, and I realized that this dream of mine is not too far off. I looked at what it would take to further my training, and I realized that I could be flying in the clouds in several weeks, that I could be flying twin-engine airplanes in just a few days, that I could land on water in a couple of days, and that I could became a well-qualified full-time pilot in about six months. For the first time, this far-off dream all of a sudden seems possible. From the old lady in the feet of the mountains telling me, "Do it. Just do it." to the understanding of what training it will take, I now realize that I can do it! The dream, the fog, the distant possibility now has definition and reality to it.
And I have become giddy. Seriously! I think about flying day and night! I think about what it would be like to load up my family or friends into a six-seater twin-engine airplane and head for Lambert’s. Or the coast. Above the clouds! Just like the big jets! It didn’t matter whether we had six seats or 300...being above the clouds was still the same!
And I am seriously thrilled about the whole idea. I think I could wake up happy and excited each day as I prepared myself to fly yet again. I used to wonder if it would get old...if flying every day would get boring. Well, excuse me for my boldness, but allow me to share a conversation I had with a close friend a couple of years ago. We were talking about sex, and we wondered if it would ever get old. He was married, and I, of course, was not. And he said, “Do you ever get tired of playing basketball?”
Come to think of it, I never did! At times I would be tired during basketball, but in college, I often found myself playing basketball every single night! It never became old!
”Sex is better than basketball.”
And so I had my answer. And so I have my answer! Flying has never become old for me yet...there have been some long flights, and sometimes the Illinois terrain can look the same throughout! But all flights end up having a memory or something enjoyable in the end! So I don’t think flying every day will ever become old!
So I want to become a pilot. A professional pilot. Instrument, Commercial, Multi-Engine, CFI, CFII, MEI. I am about six months and $30,000 away from making that dream a reality.
And as it stands now, I hope to have my first commercial pilot job by summer of 2008.
Thank you, Portugal.
2007-09-26 17:02:41 GMT