A recent flight back to Wisconsin reminded me of a story a friend once told me about flying to Las Vegas with a woman who was flying for the first time. The story goes . . . as this was her first time flying, she paid special attention to the safety demonstration. She pulled the additional safety information from the seat back pocket in front of her, followed along, and admittedly was annoyed with all of her friends who were talking and laughing while the flight attendant was doing the demonstration. The flight took off without incident, but during the flight, the plane went through a patch of terrible turbulence, lost cabin pressure, and the passengers were required to put on the oxygen masks that dropped down from above their seats.
The woman flying for the first time very calmly put on her mask and sat without worry until cabin pressure was restored and the pilot announced they could remove their masks. During the ordeal, her friends’ faces were filled with fear and terror while she remained perfectly relaxed. After their masks were removed, she said to her friend next to her, “I don’t know why you were so scared, if you had been paying any attention to the safety demonstration, they told us this was going to happen!”
This story has always given me a chuckle, but as I’ve thought about it, I feel that there is a real life lesson embedded in it, especially for our teens as they begin to look ahead toward college and beyond. The lesson is that as you maneuver through your life, you will experience bumps, turbulence, even failures. Life isn’t always sunny skies and smooth sailing. At times you may feel like you’re suffocating under the weight of your problems and the stress of your life.
But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you will always have support to help you get through those rough patches until you can breathe on your own again. Your parents will be there, loving you unconditionally, your brother or sister, husband or wife, friend or co-worker, your Lord and Savior. You only need one oxygen mask on a plane and in life, it only takes one person. The secret is to look up, find your support, and like the mask on the plane, reach out to pull him/her toward you.
We are all like the woman flying for the first time – each day in our lives is new and filled with the unknown. Bumps, turbulence, loss, and failure sometimes happen. When it does, just grab your nearest support person, pull them toward you, and breathe normally. You’ll get through it.