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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Selfishness Does Not Beget Happiness

The life of an airline pilot has been describe in many terms. One of the words used is glamorous. I suppose if you look at some of the places that pilots travel to it could be considered glamorous. However, there is another side to this glamour. Lets take for example my first flight flying for an airline. I flew from Phoenix, AZ to Puerto Vallarta Mexico. This is a beautiful area on the west coast of  Mexico. It is an area that many people love to vacation. I actually flew into Puerto Vallarta twice within two days.

My flight in and out of the area followed the coastline I was able to see the green of the lush countryside blending in with the sand of the beach that so many people enjoyed. There were scattered clouds that added to the serenity of the beauty. I was taking passengers who were going to relax on the beach and enjoy the pleasures of what this vacation spot had to offer them.

After landing, we taxied to our gate area. This gate was not attached to a building, but was on the ramp away from the terminal area. A bus came to pick up the passengers and take them to the terminal building. From that point the rest of the crew and I sat in the airplane for the next hour and a half before we started to board passengers for the return trip to Phoenix.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not complaining. I love flying a jet. Being an airline pilot is a dream come true. There are not many people who get to do what I do. There are times when I get to relax in a nice area while on overnights with my job. But it is nowhere near as glamorous as what many people think. Another example is where I am as I write these words. I am sitting in a hotel in Little Rock, AR. Also, airlines do not usually get the nice luxurious hotels rooms for crew members. 

Often times the only thing I want to do when I get to a room is sleep. Actually, there are times that sleep is the only thing there is time to do when getting to a hotel. There is good and bad with what I do for a living. The good is that I get to fly a multi-million dollar jet. In doing so I meet many people. These people are both coworkers and passengers. Flying with a variety of people allows me to make new friends. It also offers me the opportunity to fly with people that I would never want to fly with again. Yes, there are still some of those overbearing type of pilots out there that make a fun job feel like something I do not want to do.

The point I am trying to make is that there is good and bad in everything we do in life. There is no such thing as the perfect job. No matter what we do in life there is always going to be something that will challenge us and put roadblocks to our happiness in our way. But it is what a person does with those times that counts. When flying with an overbearing jerk I can give in to his foul attitude and feel worse. Or I can simply just go about my job and not let his attitude affect what I am doing. I could let the long tedious days and short nights get the better of me or I can remember how great it is to get to do what I do. 

Even when a person is doing what he or she loves, there will be times of disappointment. Finding ways to combat those times of despair is what makes us better people. When I first made the decision to go public with who I am I was scared of the repercussions. I was not sure how this might affect my future. After all, there is still a huge stigma surrounding mental health issues. I thought perhaps I could be crucified in the media. However, CNN did a great job with how it handled the interview when I went public and was dubbed the Prozac Pilot. The topic of pilots and antidepressants is a controversial subject. But my wife and I made the decision together based on the hope that I could help people.

The CNN interview was nearly four years ago. I still get emails from around the world. I did not imagine that I would be able to reach out to so many people. I still hope that I can touch the lives of more people in a positive manner. There have also been some disappointments along the way. I have received emails from people who have lost loved ones that have taken their own lives. This is always sad to hear. I talked with a cousin of mine the other day whose 21 year old granddaughter had taken her own life. I could hear the pain in my cousin's voice. She was deeply saddened by the suicide of her granddaughter. She told me that if anyone EVER says they are going to take their own life to take it seriously. 

Living life to the fullest is the best way to get through life with a genuine smile. Do the things in life that will not hurt others and be the best that you can each and every day. Selfishness does not beget happiness. Joy can only survive when we treat others with respect and decency. This includes how we treat ourselves. 

Keep and eye on the sky!

Collin W. Hughes 

The Prozac Pilot

Friday, January 3, 2014

What is Love?

How many times do we say, "I love you" to someone. It is a phrase that is said by some several times each day. There are other people who may never say these words, yet there are people in their lives who know of that love because of how they treat them. Love is a verb. Love is not just something we say to someone love is something that we show to others. We show this love by our actions and our words.

I received a comment from someone recently regarding my last post. I knew what I wrote could be taken as harsh by some people. I was simply stating feelings. When I come on here and write I put down the words that come to my mind. I try to write things that will hopefully help others if they find themselves in a similar situation. Due to this comment I wanted to go further into my feelings regarding my last post.

Love within a family should be unconditional. I did not learn to love unconditionally until the past few years of my life. My wife, Jeanmarie, has been a great example for me as to how to do this. I know I am not an easy person to get along with. In reality, not many people are actually. Everyone has their little quirks that will upset other people. With that said, my wife and I do have disagreements. There are times I will upset her and there are times she upsets me. There have been times during the middle of a disagreement she will look at me, calm down and with all the  compassion she can muster during her anger say to me, "Yes I am mad at you, but that does not mean I do not love you. I still love you."

To me that is unconditional love. She is the type of person who if she never said those three words I would still know that she cares for me deeply. I would hope that I treat her in a manner that she would always know that I love her even if I never said those words again. However, it is still nice to tell each other of those feelings. It always feels good to have the one closest to you say those words to you. The jest of what I am saying here is that I a now learning how to love unconditionally.

Now lets address the topic of abuse. When there is abuse in a household it is normally kept inside the home. What happens in the home stays in the home. Children who suffer from abuse usually do not know that this is not normal. Whether this be physical abuse or emotional abuse these children only know this type of existence. Therefore, they do not know they should reach out for help. The abuser certainly is not going to tell anyone outside the home what they are doing to their children. Often times the abusers are survivors of abuse themselves and feel what they are doing is normal.

The point that I am trying to make is that anyone outside the home of an abusive household would have no idea that abuse is going on unless they witnessed it for themselves. I know of a family who everyone thought was very loving and normal where the husband was a strong leader in his church. His wife was highly thought of as well. The couple divorced after the husband finally got tired of his wife beating him. Everyone who knew the family was shocked to hear what this woman had been doing to her husband. You just do not know unless you have lived it.

Everyone has their own trials and difficulties in life. These hard times come in a variety of trials. These trials may come in the form of a personal loss such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. These trials may come due to the way someone has treated us. These trials will also come due to the consequences of our own actions and choices. We all make good and bad decisions. Often times bad choices may have consequences that can haunt us the rest of our lives. I have made choices and done things that I know have hurt others. When this happens all we can do is try to improve things in our lives, work harder to be better and hope those you have hurt can find it in their hearts to forgive.

Forgiveness is not an easy thing. The toughest person to forgive can be yourself. I am a person who is very hard on myself. I will never forget when I asked Jeanmarie's father for her hand in marriage. He knew that I had made some wrong choices in life. However, he agreed to what I asked of him. But before he gave his permission he told me there was a promise he wanted me to make to him. I expected a lecture on how I was supposed to treat his daughter. But what he said totally took me by surprise. He looked at me and said, "You have to promise me that you will forgive yourself." Those were some of the most powerful and loving words that I can remember hearing anyone say to me.

There are times that someone we have hurt is unwilling to forgive. When this happens there is not much a person can do except to keep working on being a better person. Put your best foot forward and do what you can to not make the same mistakes. If a person is unwilling to forgive you cannot hold it against that person. Just hope that someday they will find it within their power to let the past go. If and when that happens the healing can begin.

As I mentioned in my last post. Life is not easy. It is meant to be worked at. Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes and do what we can to improve ourselves. I know I still have much to learn. I work each day to become a better person. I am nowhere near being the best that I can be. I simply hope that tomorrow I am better than I am today and that in the process of improving I do not cause pain to others.

Keep and eye on the sky!

The Prozac Pilot

Collin W. Hughes