Always remember, "takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory."

Words of wisdom common to all aviation and that also have application to any other areas where taking action A means that action B will then unavoidably be required.

In hang gliding a common extension of this idea is "It is better to be on the ground, wishing you were in the air than to be in the air, wishing you were on the ground."

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I suffer from something known as highway driving anxiety. I'm not sure if that is the clinical name for it, but I don't really care. It causes me to have bouts of extreme anxiety that arise seemingly out of nowhere when I am driving on highways. Sometimes it is so intense I have to get off the highway and either not drive at all for a while or drive on a state road or something along those lines for a time.

Back in 1994, after my bout with death, I decided to confront this issue. I rented a car and began driving west. I kept driving from my home in Massachusetts until I ended up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Then I turned south and kept going until I ended up in Florida.

The thing was, there was no reason for this trip. The point of it was to make myself drive long distances on highways and to have no recourse to cancel my trip other than turning around and driving home. The further away I got from home, the more challenging it became. It became impossible to simply stop and give up. There was no one I could call to come and get me. I had to drive home.

The further I got from home, the more exhilirating it became. And the panic attacks became more intense. It was my first experience with what I call the quickening and it taught me about things other than that. It taught me that when I take on a challenge I cannot give up. Once I take flight I have to realize that I also need to land.

No matter what you do or where you go, you always need to have a return flight path back to home base.

I've learned that survival requires the minimalization of needs. After I moved to Florida in 1997, I kept a small and modest apartment for nearly eight years. Even when I had the money to move to a bigger apartment I did not. Because it is in my nature now to jump into ravines just to see where they lead and to get the rush felt when I jump back to safety, keeping my needs minimal and my wants and desires in check helps me to be able to keep my landing strip available and at the ready.

And that includes having given up my safe apartment and my clear landing strip in 2005 when I returned to New England. I had to maintain contingency plans, even as I was convinced to abandon them as part of a twisted oath of love. They still existed. I work to maintain very positive and supportive relationships with a large number of people. I know, but do not expect, that others will help me in a time of need, and in exchange I do the same for them. They are part of my landing strip when I go into really deep ravines.

You can take off on any madness you desire, and it is completely optional, but you will eventually need to land.

In a world that focuses more on material gains and what you own, our wings are often taken away by our own submission to a sick system. We're encouraged to build from a grounded system, not from a mobile one. We become convinced that perceived needs are real needs, that we need the expensive car, the expensive house, and everything else that is top of the line and is supposed to impress people to our status and position. These things become anchors that hold us to a firmly grounded position and do not give us any room to negotiate when life breaks the wrong way for us.

Can you survive if life breaks the wrong way for you? The wealthy seek political protection from it, but the working person has no real recourse. We're on our own, unless we can count on each other, but can we depend on ourselves and our disaster planning? Can we minimalize our needs and shake the desire to make acquisition fulfill various emptinesses we feel inside?

Only by minimalizing our needs can we still attain takeoff instead of being anchored by our perceived needs. These days, as excess is reaching critical mass and we're being brought down to ground level by the sickness of excess in general, many are needing to revert to true minimal needs in order to simply survive.

Take a moment to take stock. What do you really need and what have you simply become convinced that you need? Prepare contingencies for disaster. Be ready to cancel what you don't really need and prepare to empty your storehouses of possession and acquisition.

As always, the landings will be mandatory. All the takeoffs will be optional. Try to make sure you can still take off.


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