No, not smoking, flying!
Well… not even "flying", technically, but rather, I am thinking about quitting the pursuit of my PPL.
I love flying. Difficult as the learning process has been for me, it’s also provided me with endless inspiration, both in my writing, and in a more metaphysical sense. (I think learning to fly has made me a more “spiritual” person, has brought me a greater appreciation of God... or at least, of Mother Nature!)
But there comes a time in every major challenge worth pursuing – at least for a while – when one must consider when the end is near, and if that "end" is the accomplishment of the original goal, or if it is the decision to quit and make space for other goals.
I don't like the idea of "quitting", in and of itself. It feels so incomplete, somehow, so failure-like. But would be the cost of NOT quitting, in this case? The money and time I have spent on learning to fly has been robbed from other, also important and valuable pursuits: My children, my career, my musical hobbies, my work with multiples…. I didn’t mind putting some of those things on the backburner for a while, while I learned this incredible new thing. But as months turn into years, thanks to uncooperative weather, bouts of bad health, and a recurring shortage of funds, I have to ask myself “how much longer”?!
On the one hand, I feel like I would be giving up so much if I quit now: I’ve soloed, even flown a cross country all by myself!!! I passed a three-hour written exam I never thought possible! I understand (superficially) mathematical and physical concepts I was terrified or blissfully unaware of my whole life up to now… if I quit after all this, am I a total loser?! How will I face my many new Pilot friends in PEI this summer and tell them that I not only STILL do not have my PPL, but that in fact, I have chosen to stop chasing after it?!
On the other hand, I feel like if I don’t drop this all-consuming hobby, I will never play a Bach violin sonata on the xylophone, or sing in a choir, or play my drums ever again! If I don’t make space for some reading (not flight training manuals!!!) and thinking and writing at the end of a stressful day at a job that seems to be the target of attack from all angles these days, my ability to do so will shrink until I am no longer able to write a coherent, grammatically correct or even mildly interesting sentence. And if I voraciously check the weather report every Sunday morning to see if it is VFR and whether I can fly, when will I be able to enjoy an uninterrupted sermon-series at church again?
I miss reading fiction books without feeling guilty that I am not studying for my next flight lesson. I miss taking AQ- or other teaching-related courses. I miss the idea of an uninterrupted summer in PEI with my family. But every time a plane flies overhead, my eyes turn heaven-ward. If I stop chasing after my PPL, will I forever resent the missed opportunity to become a licensed pilot?
In the uncertainty that is the limbo between deciding definitively to quit, and hoping that the weather and my financial situation will align favourably in support of a final series of flight lessons leading to a successful flight test, I am not sure of anything anymore!