16-Dec-2019, Birmingham, Alabama

On Sunday, I flew to Birmingham from San Diego. I flew Delta and connected via Atlanta. The San Diego to Atlanta leg of my flight was the last flight for a pilot that had been flying for Delta for 32 years. It was his retirement flight. On the flight (along with all the passengers) were his wife and his daughters. His son, whom is an American Airlines pilot, was his co-pilot. When the initial descent began, the pilot got on the PA and with an emotional tone said he was nervous about it being his last PA on a flight. When we landed everyone on the flight clapped. What a flight!

I landed, worked out, and worked on reports. The next morning, I made my way to the clinic, conducted the visit, passed by Railroad park (photographed here) and made it to the airport with some hours to spare to work on my report. Unfortunately, all flights out of Birmingham and into Houston (IAH) were grounded until 7PM CST. This meant that I was going to miss my connecting flight out of Houston – the last flight to San Diego out of Houston for the day (I take this flight often because I connect via Houston often!). I quickly called United and asked if they could re-route me via any other United hub (United hubs on the west coast are SFO, DEN, and LAX).  There were no flights available out of Birmingham towards any of the 3 hubs. I even asked about ORD (Chicago), but there was also no availability. I then requested to see if there were any competitors (American, Delta, Southwest, etc) that had flight availability to anywhere in SoCal via a hub (all airlines have different hubs)- I was willing to drive home! (Here’s a little flying fact: Unless you live near a hub, the number of nonstop flights available to you decreases. Hubs have the largest number of non-stop flights (it’s why you usually fly through them!) No luck.  I found all this out by calling the United Premier line and solved the issue within 15 minutes. The line at the desk at the airport was too long. This meant I was getting stuck in Houston overnight. I asked to be re-booked into the first flight out of Houston in the morning. Not a big deal! I travel 80% of the time, this has happened to me before in the past 4 years! At 7:15PM CST the flight left Birmingham towards Houston.

I arrived to my hotel in Houston at 10 PM CST. (PRO-TIP: Always carry-on. It saves a tremendous amount of time and effort in situations like the one I mentioned above. The only time I’ve checked a bag in the past years is when I moved from Rochester to San Diego – my life was packed into 5 suitcases.) I worked until midnight CST. I then awakened at 4AM CST and worked until 7:30AM CST when I took an UBER to the airport. I worked through my flight, landed in San Diego, got home at 12:30 PM PST and continued working. The flight from Houston to San Diego was a training flight for new flight attendants! A retirement and a training flight all within 48 hours! Yesterday, I woke early and finished my day by 10PM PST. Today I started working at 6:30AM PST and now I’m taking a blog break until 9AM PST because I was feeling a little loopy. It’s all good! Starting Friday evening I’ll be off from 12/21 – 1/1. Forever grateful that when I’m not flying, I’m remote! Not having to go into an office saves me all of the time – all of it!

Here are some additional photos of Birmingham:

Cloudy Reflection, Birmingham, Alabama (16-Dec-2019)
Obvious, Birmingham, Alabama (16-Dec-2019)

I want to share a piece published today by my favorite former professor, Douglas Brooks. I’ve mentioned Professor Brooks multiple times on this blog before (Rajanaka Yoga). I spend a lot of my free time reading (I’d rather read for 15 minutes than scroll through social media or watch Netflix – don’t have an account – or during flights if I don’t have deadlines to meet!). This is by far the most moving piece I’ve read in 2019. I’ll share it below. Hope you’re all having a lovely Thursday/Friday.

Looking into Soul and the Soulless, Douglas Brooks

<<“I urge my colleagues in the House and in the Senate: Look into your soul.” —-Rep. Steny Hoyer

First a few paragraphs of sermon. Apologies in advance. This is the morning after the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. America hasn’t been this divided since the brink of civil war in 1859. So let’s ask about soul and what that means. We’re gonna need some.

Soul? Truth is, you won’t see what isn’t there. Soul isn’t a cosmic entity; it’s not something we possess much less save or have saved. Soul is where we go in the depths of character to experiment with truth. Soul is the place where feeling and knowing converge. It is the decidedly human feat of reaching into conscience, into one’s heart, into the differences that make all the difference and deciding for the truth.

When we make that kind of decision we can’t mistake what it does to us. It asks something _from_ us. As the Upanishad put it, It asks us to choose the real over what is merely preferred. We’re going to have to start with the idea that the harder truths are not easy to accept even when they are plain as day.

Contemporary soul seekers tell us that this process begins with “radical acceptance.” When we enter into radical acceptance to recognize the hard facts then what we feel takes hold in ways that cannot be denied in the conscious world, and _that_ the is soul emergent from beneath it all.

Soul makes you joyful because it revels in such truth, even if it hurts. Soul leads you to the truest sorrow because it is the grief that must accompany love as its shadow. Forget the metaphysics. Soul is when your humanity wins out over all of the other possibilities. Your humanity doesn’t always win. It can even chose not to feel itself at all.

Not everyone evolves their soul because we have to want to, we have to learn how, we can always ignore it. And it’s easy to lose it because even the best of us do, sometimes. The longing to find and re-find our soul is the process of feeling more human and so more humane. Soul is when your humankind-ness becomes human-kindness.

But it’s also possible to lose your soul. Entirely, even forever. You can want to do that because you have your reasons, your goals. Goals are a way of postponing the longer look into your soul. Goals substitute for meaning because goals can be achieved but meaning as to be made. The hard way. That’s breaking into the soul and sometimes breaks the soul.

Not to worry. A broken soul hurts but if you know its broken then you can take up the broken pieces and make more. Sometimes other people will help too with their broken pieces and together you can make a soul that feels its worth. But when you decide to lose your soul or give up on it? There are consequences. It’s decidedly human to want what you want more than anything that is true. You can be soulless. That is human too.

So back to the point of Representative Hoyer’s plea. America’s soullessness doesn’t end with these elected Republicans. It extends into Fox Culture (I know, I know, an oxymoron). The soulless now include a significant number of rural whites who form the Fox Base. Why am I so hard on them? Because they don’t want to look for anything more, anything else that moves them to look again, more deeply. They would rather have their souls saved by something other than their own efforts to look into self.  They want to be forgiven rather than learn from their mistakes. They would rather revel in their grievance culture and claims of victimhood than take up their soul work. Most don’t even know that the soul needs work and that that work will be the hardest thing they ever do.

But the story gets worse because there are educated suburbanites and exurbanites who you’d think_could_ know better but they’ve chosen soullessness. Why? Because they have “goals” and that gets simpler still: it’s really only about the money. Meaning is for losers, only goals matter. There are no moral considerations, no matters of character that they will prioritize over their “kitchen table issues”—their ethics are purely transactional and amenable to Trumpism’s soullessness because they care more about money than anything else. They have personal goals, goals for their families, and nothing else has priority. This is why the Republican Party is a pathology and, more dangerously, a political force in an America that has lost its way.

All is not lost. We can look for America’s soul when we look into our own and ask what more we want from life that makes ourselves a gift to others and to those deeper feelings of truth. It’s the long way home.>>

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry