Budd Davisson, Plane and Pilot Magazine

Procrastination, sucks:

When is it your time to fly? How about now!

I get lots of e-mails asking me odd questions and there is one I get at least once a month in one form or another. This time it said, “I’m thinking about learning to fly. Should I wait until my daughter graduates from college?” This is a question without an answer. Well, that’s not exactly true, because there are a dozen ways to answer it, but obviously there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

When I get questions like that, I feel it’s necessary to fumble around and give some sort of answer, and this time I’m going to do my fumbling in public. Make believe you’re being CC’d on an e-mail.

First, let’s analyze the question, “I’m thinking about learning to fly. Should I wait until my daughter graduates from college?”

“…I’m thinking about learning to fly…” Exactly what does this mean? Does this mean the thought just flashed through your head for the first time and it was too late to bother your wife with the revelation so you e-mailed me? Or maybe you thought you’d try it out on me first just to see how it sounds before hitting your wife (or husband) up with it.

This could also be one of those thoughts that periodically float through your mind as background music to more serious thinking? For instance, the front of your brain is busy calculating the weight of a neutrino at 99% the speed of light, while, in the background some part of you is coasting off over far horizons and “I think I’ll learn to fly” flashes up on the background screen. These kinds of urges may or may not be cause for action because the thought may be nothing more than one of those “…gee, wouldn’t it be fun to…(insert weird activity here),” thoughts. There’s no passion attached. It’s just a random brain cell spasm.

You have more serious problems, however, if learning to fly is one of those thoughts that creeps around your unconscious mind and is always just “there.” At times, because you haven’t heard from that thought for a while, you’ll think the urge has gone away but then, when the noise of living lets up for a few seconds, there it is, chirping away in the background, reminding you that there is something you want to be doing but aren’t. This is an indication that, whether you know it or not, some part of you will forever be sorry if you don’t act on the desire. 

Here’s a hint from the DDMH (Davisson Department of Mental Health): if you can’t drive the thought of learning to fly from your mind, then maybe you’d better do some serious self evaluation. You need to drag that urge out into the sunshine and examine how you feel about it in very concrete terms. Exactly how serious do you feel about this? Is it a whim or a passionate desire that you’ve steadfastly kept stuffed under a mental rock because it doesn’t look “responsible” enough to fit into your current life?

I’ve got a hot flash for you: the really neat things don’t comfortably dovetail into an existing life. They often barge on stage and rewrite that life, making it bigger and better. You know this is a life-changing decision, yet you’re letting rationalization get in the way. While you’re rationalizing, remember that life is measured by the things you do, not the things you don’t do. So do it.  

And then there’s the second part of your question. “Should I wait until my daughter graduates from college?”

In the first place, who told you the expense of having a daughter ends on graduation day? Do the words “wedding,” “first house,” “grand kid” and others of the same ilk mean nothing to you? All of the foregoing coming events in your daughter’s life are pretty much guaranteed and they are going to impact your financial life bigger than you know. Those are guarantees. What is not guaranteed is tomorrow.

The concept of tomorrow is based upon a theory that the sun will always come up for each of us, but that’s not a fact. What is a fact is that someday the sun won’t come up for us and the operative word there is “someday.” It might be tomorrow. It might be next week, next month, next decade. But it’s going to happen and death renders the idea of procrastination moot and leaves a bunch of wishes unfulfilled, projects unfinished and things not said. If learning to fly is on your wish list, it definitely should not be in the “unfinished” column the day the sun refuses to rise for you.

Don’t use your daughter’s college as a reason for not realizing your own dream. It’s only money and, in the big scheme of things, money difficulties can always be resolved. A dream not realized, however is one of life’s true tragedies. We know that “now” is guaranteed but “tomorrow” is a pretty iffy concept and “someday” might as well not even exist. So, don’t wait. Others have and they have always been sorry. BD