June 1, 2020

In aviation, any time you modify an aircraft beyond the original design specifications or experience extraordinary events, you must document the impact of the modification or identify the root cause of the unusual situation experienced.  Once the facts are known, two things must take place.  The pilot’s Flight Manual with Supplements (FMS) must be updated to provide information on how to properly operate the aircraft and the Maintenance Manual with Supplements (MMS) must be updated to ensure the findings are properly tested and maintained in a safe and reliable condition.  I think we do the same things both consciously and unconsciously in our own lives.  Unfortunately, no one gave us a personalized operating or maintenance manual checklist with our name on the cover to help us deal with life’s challenges. As a result, it is up to us to learn from those that came before us and those presently around us and to use our own God-given values, principles and faith as our constant guide, especially during uncertain times.

Over the past several weeks, like you, I have experienced and witnessed all sorts of emotions and hurt from people dealing with a wide range of hardships.  I am sure many are asking, like I have over the years, “Why me?”  I want to reassure those who hurt that eventually all will be fine, even when it is hard to believe.  The reason I know, is like many others, I have shared many of the same experiences and life lessons.  I am sure there are lots of feelings of personal blame and searches for sources to blame.  Let me assure you, all will be okay.

Often, people tell me that they like to hear some of the stories that I openly share of my own life’s experiences.  As we deal with the coronavirus challenges, I will share with you how I had been somewhat prepared to deal with our totally new environment.  As with all experiences, even the most painful ones teach lessons that will help in the future.  There are always positives that are not readily apparent at the time of the experience.

When I was young, my grandmother, a child during the Great Depression, shared with me how she and her siblings were left at Buckner Children’s Home (an orphanage) in Dallas because her parents could not afford to feed them.  She actually knew Father Buckner.  Maybe her childhood memories caused her, when she burned the toast she was preparing for our dinner on her antique toaster, to scrape the black burned part off and assure me the toast was fine (it still looked like charcoal to me).

I remember as a young kid my parents filed bankruptcy and a company by the name of Household Finance came to our house and repossessed all of the collateralized furniture.  We lived in our San Antonio “homestead” that was exempt from foreclosure without any furniture for months.  I slept on the floor. We cooked our meals on a green, Coleman two burner camp stove and our cold items were stored in a small aluminum ice chest.

My wife and I have both dealt with parents and siblings who had mental issues and my wife ate lots of government provided cheese growing up.  As a kid I can recall staying with relatives outside of Devine, Texas on a farm that had no indoor plumbing. We used an outhouse and stood on a rock under a water hose to take a shower.

As a teenager I worked at a family owned terrazzo company. Several men who were my supervisors worked there during the Great Depression.  They instilled my work ethic in me as they shared stories of how precious it was to have a job. They were consciously aware that there were constantly 25 men standing outside the job site gate trying to get their job.

I understand the feeling of being stranded when you have a car that doesn’t work or no money to even buy gas.  Taking the bus daily to the local junior college for me meant three transfers to get to class.  Living in a truck stop outside of San Marcos, Texas, at times without electricity and a phone, was part of my early life training that helped me consider a hot shower a true blessing.  Thankfully, my life lessons on substance abuse were only from observations, but they were up close and very personal.

I remember the humbling feeling and sadness of getting unemployment checks when I couldn’t find a job early in my career.  I know what it feels like to look into an empty refrigerator and wonder what you are going to do to feed your family.  One of the most humbling and heartfelt experiences I had was being overwhelmed and feeling that I could not provide for my family.  I know what it feels like to not have anyone to call for help other than the great one who I prayed to very, very often.

Like many people, I have been taught and read about plagues in the Bible, but I never thought I would live through one.

So what’s my point?  If you are hurting or down on yourself, get over it!  It is time to restore your positive feelings about yourself and those around you.  It is time to offer help and understanding, with God’s favor.

By the grace of God, we have lessons to learn.  I pray that we as a people have refocused on what is important in life and are better prepared for whatever our future holds.  Just like in aviation, we will modify how we operate and how we maintain our lives and those we influence.  I pray that people understand that we cannot do these things without the spiritual strength to understand that all in life is not in our control and that we enjoy many blessings, including some of those that were taken for granted until recently.

I pray that we will all use our current experiences to teach future generations important values and principles so that just like the pilots who refer to Flight Manuals and Maintenance Supplements this experience is used to better prepare people to deal with whatever hardships are faced. We all have an obligation to share with future generations our lessons learned and may we enjoy our many blessings as we move forward.  God bless!

PS – I forgot to mention that I flunked the first grade, took remedial math and reading, lost two attempts to become an Addison, Texas City Councilman and one attempt to become Mayor!  I guess God had other things for me to do.

Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.