Regaining Lift

Most of us experience stalling at some stage in our lives. In our attempts to be all we can. In our attempts to climb as high as we can, as fast as we can.

The problem is, like an aeroplane, we can only climb so fast. If we pitch the nose up too high, or carry too much weight, we run the risk of stalling. And if we do, then we’re only left with one choice. 

Just like an aeroplane, the only way to recover – the only way – is to point the nose back towards the ground. You have to sacrifice height in order to regain lift. 

For many of us this is the last thing we want. 

When we’ve had our eyes on that optimum crushing level – that perfect enviable position we wish we were at in life – we find it hard to let go. We become so fixated on that place we lose all sense of what’s actually going on, what actually needs to be done in the here and now. 

Of course if you keep pitching up in desperation – if you refuse to accept your situation – well, then, the results can be catastrophic. 

Towards the end of 2019 I found myself in such a stall. I was mentally and physically exhausted. The relentlessly busy rosters and regular night flying had taken its toll. I also needed help navigating depression. 

I’d known for some time I needed help, I just didn’t want to admit it. So in desperation I kept trying to pitch the nose up. Of course it only made things worse. I only found myself in a deeper stall. 

Eventually I conceded. I acknowledged the stall and pointed the nose down. I asked for the professional help I’d ignored getting for years. 

It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Shortly afterwards the pandemic gripped the world and I suddenly found myself with an abundance of time at home. All of which gave me the perfect opportunity to keep the nose down. To utilise my support systems. As a result I spent the first half of 2020 at home, resting, writing, reading and being with the people I love.

It was exactly what I needed to regain lift. 

By June, when I finally went back to work I felt ready, like the heavy fog that had shrouded my mind had lifted and I could fly once more. It’s just that, this time, the whole world had stalled. Little did I know just how long that stall would last. A year on I still don’t. 

What followed were a series of professional setbacks. The biggest of which came when my company consigned our sister airline to the history books. A fifth of our workforce went jobless overnight. Those of us lucky enough to still cling to our jobs in aviation, were forced onto a new contract in very friendly sign-or-be-sacked kinda manner.

Fast forward to the present day and my coworkers are still fearing for their livelihoods. Many of them have family who live abroad they haven’t seen for well over a year. I’m one of the lucky ones with my family here in Hong Kong. On top this the lack of flying means many of us are rusty. The added stress isn’t helped by quarantine or the ever changing medical/testing requirements. I haven’t even mentioned the fear of contracting the virus itself.

This week I actually got to fly. To give you an idea of the times, the Captain and I flew an empty passenger jet to Hanoi and back. We carried nothing but a bit of cargo in the belly. On arrival into Hong Kong we were made to test for COVID, then wait 3 hours for the results before they let us go home. We were the lucky ones. Many of our other colleagues flying to higher risk destinations and/or with passengers on board are made to quarantine for 3 weeks in a hotel room before being allowed home. 

All the above has made the job more demanding that it has ever been. 

Yet, despite this, flying to Hanoi and back was some of the most fun I’ve had in an aeroplane for a number of years. I believe that’s because this pandemic has given me something from being forced to point the nose down for the past year and a half. What I believe it really takes to recover from any stall in life: perspective

I became a pilot to fly aeroplanes and travel the world, but that’s not why I get in an aeroplane anymore. I’ve come to realise those motives alone aren’t enough anymore. They don’t generate enough lift. 

Now I fly, above all else, to help the world. To make sure the few passengers who need to travel get home to their families safely. To help transport critical cargo where it needs to go. To keep my company afloat. I fly not just for me and my family, but for the man or women sitting next to me and their families. I fly for all those who lost their jobs. I fly as part of a rich and proud aviation heritage during what is arguably its most difficult hour. 

It’s like that story about three bricklayers who were asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

I’ve transitioned from the second bricklayer to the third. I fly with a far greater passion derived from a deeper meaning that’s been given to this profession – to all things – during this time. Ultimately that’s what I believe pointing the nose down allows you to see. It reminds you what it’s all about. Why you even get up in the morning. 

And call me crazy, but for the first time in a while I feel a glimmer of hope. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, with a slight uptick in the amount of flying rostered this month, with genuine talks of opening up travel bubbles… 

Of course I’m aware you have to be very careful with hope. Often the light at the end of the tunnel is simply another train coming at you. And if it is, so be it. I’m ready.

Still, I do believe this time we might actually be at the bottom of this stall. That we might finally have the energy – the perspective – to start the slow ascent towards bluer skies. Back towards a new, more sustainable, cruising level. I, for one, can’t wait for the day I look back down the cabin and see the plane full of happy travellers once more.

I, for one, am more than ready to do my part, to help make that happen.  

(Thanks for reading everyone. I’m curious to know what stories you have of stalling in life? How did you deal with it? What helped you recover? Let us know below. Wishing you well.)


You can find more of AP2’s writing here at:

48 thoughts on “Regaining Lift

  • Hi AP2. Thank you for sharing such an obviously heart-felt article. It resonated deeply with me. I, also once knew the “dark” side–not clinically diagnosed, for it would only last a day or two; but it would return. I was finally cleared of it by having a ton of amalgam removed from my mouth. I had had no idea there was mercury in those “silver” fillings. Gone, gone, gone–years. Another part of your article resonated–the part that explains why we’re living. Here is one of your statements about the matter: “I fly not just for me and my family, but for the man or women sitting next to me and their families.” What’s really helped me is finding “What”–not who–I Am. I know It now, and it’s my mission now to help others recognize “That” too.
    Great flight, Captain–hat’s off to you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I was just reading your mr ego head post which I loved btw!

      Thanks Art. Depression is no joke. I’ve not suffered since I went to therapy. My dad also had a bunch of those older fillings with mercury in it. He also had them removed after finding out.

      I might just say Art that your words have helped me a great deal. You have shone a light on that – slowly but surely it’s starting to make more sense.

      Wishing you well 🙏


  • In life, we often times hit blocks and experience Stalls. I like how you put it that all we need to move past them is a change in perspective. Your balance of optimism and reality is also very admirable and I embrace your concept. Sometimes we have to loose something to gain another, we have to accept to slow down, point the nose down to gain some ascend and to be careful with hope it might be a train heading our way In the tunnel but still be strong enough to face what’s coming.

    Early this year we lost many acres of cultivated land to a wild fire, along with a farm store and a truck. It was a major setback, then the country went into shutdown after just a few months of some relaxed restrictions. I suffered greatly in a few areas and had to fight fear and some lurking depression but accepting what has happened and changing my perspective about the situation focussing on working with what I have and preparing for future opportunities helped. Thanks for sharing. All the best.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you Kevin. You put it well. I’m sorry to hear about your hardships. Often when such a curve balls are thrown at us it becomes as much a mental battle as anything else. Acceptance is key. Especially for that over which we have no control. And I do believe concentrating on what we can control, however dire the circumstances, is critical for our well being. I’m pleased to hear that’s what you’re doing. All the best to you too 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  • It’s certainly been a tough couple of years and wonderful to, at last, see some light at the end of the tunnel. It was heartening to read of the deeper perception you gained during the pandemic. 🙂🙌

    Liked by 3 people

  • Thank you for sharing such an honest, heartfelt story AP2 ❤  I remember going through a tough time where I stalled (we all stall many times)…. The perfectionist in me was trying to do everything (crazy busy at work while studying) as well as going through grief at the same time. Writing was so helpful, a little break from work & support from family & friends. Recognising you need to step back is so important isnt it?  Hope is a great thing to hold onto: especially on this rollercoaster thats called ‘life’. And what a ride it is at the moment ❤🙏.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Being able to recognise an impending stall is so important. Often we don’t heed the warning signs and end up make things worse. We all need to point the nose down and get some r&r from time to time.

      I was once told the optimum amount of effort we should give is 80% not 100%. That’s what we should aim for. It’s not dissimilar to an aeroplane. The optimum angle of climb is less than the greatest angle of climb. We often make the mistake of thinking that 100% is best when it’s not.

      Hope is very important but I believe it can be dangerous without action. Certainly a lot of turbulence on the flight of life at the moment!

      Thank you Bernie for your kind and thoughtful comments 🙏


  • This is a great message. Sometimes you need to take a few steps back in order to make a giant leap forward. Great perspective.

    I did think about pilots during this pandemic – we have a friend who is a pilot too – and wondered how challenging it must be and continues to be. Good for you for taking that first recent flight and best wishes with the many more to come!

    Liked by 4 people

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I love that imagery of ‘regaining lift.’

    I was laid off in 2020 and couldn’t find work as a graphic designer, so I’m now in the processing of regaining lift in a new career in healthcare. Who knows where it will go from there, but I’m ready for the journey! Take care. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s awesome and quite a change from graphic designer to healthcare worker! I’m pleased you didn’t sit around waiting for something but went looking – that’s important. I sincerely hope you enjoy your new journey!

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts Deb. Wishing you the very best. 🙏


    • Thank you Barb! We need to lift each other during such times. Together we recover this stall, not separately. Wishing you well 🙏


  • AP2, Your words here hit home with me. When I was in the midst of realizing my marriage was over, I stalled as well. I didn’t want the “D” word associated with my name. And I had no idea where I’d land once I took that step. But through the stalling process I got the help I needed. I started writing and found it to be therapeutic. In the end, the process made me a better person. It also helped me realize what really matters to me. Thanks for sharing your words. You inspire us all to slowly gain our own lift. As always, wishing you well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi firefly. Thank you for your kind words. I’m so pleased it resonated with you. My brother just went through a divorce. Turned his life on its head. I think when we make the courageous enough to recognise it and to point the nose down, eventually we can find ourselves in an even better position. Wishing you the very best firefly 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  • I love this! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so happy you’re able to do what you love. There’s nothing like following your passion especially when it involves helping others. I’m hopeful that things will be back to normal soon and we’re able to travel freely again. Enjoy your weekend!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Jenny. I’m pleased it resonated. Thank you for your kind words. I guess we’ve all gone through a great deal of change over the past year or two. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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