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Monday Moment: Come fly with me?

Emma Grey

Sometimes we miss the approach.

It took four flights to get me from Canberra to Adelaide and back for a My 15 Minutes workshop last week. On not one, but two of these flights, our landings were aborted! It’s called a ‘missed approach’, when the plane is coming in low near the runway and suddenly throttles up again into the sky.

On the second flight, the pilot said, ‘we’ll go around the other way and have more of a chance of landing the plane.’ (I went back to reading my novel and thought, ‘surely 2016 is about to give me a lucky break — I think we’ll be fine’, and we were.)

I’m glad the pilot didn’t give up. Glad he didn’t think, ‘well — botched that. Might as well not bother now.’ I’m relieved he decided to try again, and do it differently the second time so it would work.

My fiction manuscript recently had a second approach with a top global publisher. Last time, it nearly got through their Australian ‘acquisitions’ panel and failed the final hurdle — their publicity person. This time, the story was considered by the editor of their US office, who liked it too, but it didn’t fit their current list. It’s missed those approaches, but my agent and I will persist elsewhere until we finally land that plane.

Think of the times we give up after the first approach:

• The health kicks we ditch after a slip or two.
• The jobs we stop going for because we’ve failed at other interviews.
• Relationships that we forgo because we’ve been hurt before and don’t want to risk it again

There are missed approaches all through our lives, and when we circle around and tackle things from another angle, we’re often able to land.

But what if it’s still not possible?

Sometimes landing where we wanted won’t work, no matter how much we try. Circling and making attempt after attempt in the same place only burns up precious fuel.

Other times, we land and realise it’s the wrong place. We’re not where we thought we were, or not where we intended, and have to find a new way around.

I saw a grief counsellor last week and told her my little boy is worried that I’m going to die. He asks who’d take care of him if I did, and I tell him my sister would. He asks what would happen if she died, and if all my friends died, and if everyone I knew died, and if an asteroid hit the earth and wiped out the entire human race except him … then what?

The counsellor said it’s about building his faith in his capacity to cope, She said to reassure him about how unlikely that scenario is, then say, ‘If that did happen, what would you need to do? You’d need food and shelter. How would you get those?’ She said with anxiety about anything it can help to mentally visit the thing you fear most, and work out a plan.

We won’t always end up where we want to be. Even if we try a few ways and have to land somewhere different, what matters isn’t getting it right first time. What matters is being safe, and trusting in our own resilience and resourcefulness to survive and thrive no matter where we find ourselves.

It’s a lesson I’m learning this year, having crash landed into a version of my life that I didn’t invite or plan for, and don’t want — yet find myself living through regardless.

I’m not where I wanted to be, but that doesn’t mean I won’t survive here. It doesn’t mean I’m never going to fly again. In fact, on one of the flights that didn’t have a missed landing, I looked out the window and saw a rainbow from above. It’s amazing how things can look from a new perspective.

What about you? Come fly with me?


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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