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Fearless after Fifty

Fearless after Fifty

People ask me “are you bored now that you are retired?”  My answer is “not at all!”  For example, a few months ago I joined a weekly 9-hole golf group. I met a lovely petite lesbian there who happened to be a retired airline pilot and I soon began taking flying lessons in her tiny plane.  The first time I saw it I felt I could almost fold it up and put it in my pocket.  I have always been quite fearful of small planes and helicopters and the size of her miniature plane did not help matters.

My fear of flying in small planes began to subside when I was flying from one camp to another in Kenya with the Lesbian Sweet travel group this past February.  We flew very low looking out at giraffes, elephants, and other wild game.  I was amazed at seeing all the animals from this perspective.  It looked like Africa went on forever and the sky was a brilliant blue. The seed about learning to fly a plane was planted on that trip.

So I didn’t put the tiny plane into my pocket, but instead crawled into the teacup-sized cockpit and put the headset over my ears. I am a retired CHP officer, so after driving patrol cars for 25 years, learning to steer the plane with my feet did not come naturally.  To take off I had to apply full throttle and barrel, steering the rudder to stay on the line running down the middle of the runway, with my feet.  I could hear my instructor through the headset saying “more right rudder.”  So of course I pushed my left foot down hard.  She kept repeating her mantra of “more right rudder.”  It was amazing how fast we were almost careening almost off the runway.  My heart was in my mouth as it felt like we were about to drive across the grassy fields and end up in a ball of flames.  Fortunately my instructor took over just in time.

I was not deterred. I learned all about stalls and spins. Crashing before takeoff seemed scary enough. Being the practical person that I am I began tucking doggie poop bags into my pockets on the off chance that I might totally lose it in the tiny plane.  In a stall, the plane slows and the nose begins to dive downward.  After I stopped screaming, I learned to apply full throttle and pull the nose back up with my hands.  Stalls are nothing compared to landings, which have their own place in the world of fright and challenges.  I always feel sorry for people living close to runways as I look at their rooftops prior to rocking my way towards the tarmac.

Am I bored in retirement? Hardly. I am following the advice of Mahatma Gandhi.  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”  I just finished booking a scuba diving trip to the Philippines in January with a side trip to Hong Kong.  I am trying to pack in as much life as possible and always be present in the moment.

Retirement is a wonderful adventure!

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One comment

  • José Kirchner says:

    Neither retirement nor age are barriers; they are merely new doors opening in our life. You will always be searching how to climb higher!