Stressing the Master

Flying in a warm afternoon spring in a small vintage airplane has its ups and downs, quite literally. I knew this when the wheels left the tarmac. Big Red, well, she knew even better than I, and we let nature carry us, riding invisible waves throughout the afternoon sky. I was a bit rusty in dealing with the unforeseen bumps, yaws, and knocks. I tried not to white knuckle the yoke too much, breathed through it, and just let Red feel her way. Battling it was useless and more torment than fun. Together, the plane and I, we found the rhythm in the air. We rode each wave, cresting, and then sliding down. Actually, the experience turned out to be quite exhilarating.

That was until coming back to land.

Flying is a release for me, the way surfing can be for another. There are a lot of releases for different people. Yoga in the park, scuba diving, or for the adrenaline junky, sky diving and rock climbing. Each activity allows the person doing it to shred stress. And stress release for one person, may in fact be a stress inducer for another. I am sure there are many people out there that would prefer swimming in the ocean to flying in a seventy-one year old airplane. But when the shark attacks the swimmer, or a small Cessna cuts you off in the pattern, some stress will come back.

Driving is another stress reliever of mine, and yet it can be quite frustrating. But the frustration does not come from the act of driving, more following rules – like stop signs when there should be roundabouts, or slow drivers in the passing lane. Sharing a road or sharing the sky, it is a requirement for the privilege to hold the license. However, one cannot help when those that do not pay attention bring about small annoyances to our peacefulness.

It’s how we deal with these unfortunate events that count. Do we sigh and resign ourselves to pacification for the other, or do we allow our tempers to flare? In either case, most often we need to find another way to reduce the stress. Earlier this week, as if foretold by prophesy, I knew I was going to have a rough day at work. Delegation of duties is part of my job, expecting someone else to carry the burden and execute, seeing the job done correctly the first time. Yet, these are generally the sources of mounting frustration, as with most cases, these delegated tasks are not completed to my high expectations. Some errors are unintentional. Ignorance rears for the inexperienced, and their lack of knowledge becomes your burden to correct. Hence, I found myself paired with another, cutting several hundred pounds of chicken by hand with a dull knife and cramped hand. Suffice to say, it was convenient that the person who made the error was not present at the time knives where at work.

Not that I would take to that kind of violence. Truly, I’m not a homicidal maniac. However, I do pity everyone else that I talked with that day, as with each question I was asked, my answers were probably a bit more direct than instructional. This is a problem for my senior position. You see, I have gone from apprentice and journeyman, to teacher, mentor; the Master. And Masters are not supposed to lose their temper. A good drill sergeant may yell a lot, but they also know how to yell and yet still inspire motivation. So yelling, being loud, is therefore not the same as losing your temper. Sometimes you just have to be loud to make sure you’re heard. But being blind angry, well, that amount of noise will only shut down the ears of your students.

Masters, well, with our skills we know the right of way. We know what is around us. We can see many moves ahead, and never allow ourselves to run out of options. With each task we are assigned, we see the plan from start to end, can execute it solely or lead the team to completion. It does not mean we know the answers to every question, but when faced with uncertain outcome, Master’s know when to ask for help, seeking advice from other like Masters.

Master’s can become rusty with their skills if not practiced. We can lose our way, and therefore, we can lose our tempers.  Practice is everything. This was my issue this week, and I am not without fault.

Sometimes, though, even while doing something to relieve stress, centering ourselves through our hobbies, Master’s are faced with pure stupidity. And that is the time, when taxiing by slowly, we extend the middle finger out the window of the airplane at the source of stress.


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