ast winter, I started playing the video game Flight Simulator, the game that lets you fly planes of all different types. It’s quite realistic. You can control the flaps, the intercom on the plane, and even the brakes. The game features real-time weather conditions from across the world, so if it’s raining in Hong Kong you’ll fly through rain over Hong Kong. If it’s windy in San Diego your place will have turbulence.
As I was learning the game (and there’s a LOT to learn) I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes and it’s about aviation. It’s said that an airplane is actually off course 90% of the time. Given cross-winds and shifting pockets, a plane is constantly making small adjustments. Much like a highway across Kansas. We know that it’s 90% flat and points east to west, but you can’t just lock the steering wheel and take a nap.
The quote was to remind folks that in their lives, there will always be moments where you have to make small little corrections due to items out of your control. The goal is to continue to make those little adjustments to stay true to your direction.
Next week, my parents, Ed and Donna Kamler. will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. I’ve been thinking a lot about how many minor adjustments they’ve had to make over those 50 years. Five kids. Two homes. About a dozen cars of varying stages of working. A couple of car wrecks. Hospital visits. Jobs. Retirements. Tears. Laughs. Hugs.
On any given Tuesday, Dad could be coaching a baseball team. Mom would be picking someone up from piano lessons. Dinner would need to be reheated. Mom had an early meeting at work the next day. Dad had to stay late. Somebody broke their pinky. Three friends showed up out of nowhere and want snacks. And there’s a great trial on CourtTV that mom really wants to watch.
That’s one day. There are 18,250 days in 50 years. Each its own brand of disorganized organized chaos. Kids moving out of diapers. Kids moving out. Kids moving back in. Kids of their kids moving in. Family events. Weddings. Funerals. Each requires a compromise. Donna, you grab Chris from practice, and I’ll swing by the store to pick up sweet corn. Ed, your sandwich is in the fridge. I had to run out to my swimming class. Angie needs a ride at 4.
For decades, there has been a 12-month calendar hanging on the wall in the kitchen of my parents’ house. Month after month, it has hand-written notes on all of the things that our family did over those 18,000 days. Often those plans scrapped or changed at a moment’s notice and the plane was, indeed, off course. Yet, at no time did we miss any meals (me especially), nobody missed a practice and mom and dad were at every game and concert and they’ve read nearly every article of mine that’s appeared in this here newspaper to boot.
And, their true north was that they start and end every day together – for 50 years.
(Get more from Chris Kamler on Twitter as @TheFakeNed or find his videos on TikTok, also as @TheFakeNed)