The FLY-thagorean Theorem

thepilotwifelife/ 4 comments

Pythagorean Theorem: In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem, also known as Pythagoras’ theorem, is a fundamental relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. [Wikipedia]

Or in other words: a ² + b ² = c ²

I know, I know. But bear with me.

This week my daughter was doing an algebra I problem. I homeschool my kids and know my limits, and this is generally not one of them. I am typically sufficient in mathematics. My father was a high school calculus teacher, and I went through advanced AP mathematics classes with flying colors. She’s also an adept student, and as long as I brush up on the day’s concepts beforehand, we manage pretty readily.

On this particular occasion, however, she had some trouble with one of the problems. And for some reason, on that same occasion, my brain suddenly hit an insurmountable roadblock. There was no going through, around, over, or under it no matter how hard I tried. I sat there and stared blankly at that problem for a long time…and then stared some more. To no avail.

For those of you who are wondering (and didn’t see my desperate, sanity-preserving social media plea for help), it was a ‘simple’ area problem involving a pentagonal shape or lopsided ‘house’. You know what, here is a picture for reference. It’ll just be easier that way. It’s number 29.

In my defense, it’s been a rough couple of turns around here and I am physically and mentally exhausted. I’m lucky if I can remember my name some days (Angelica, is it? Or maybe Angelina…). And, for the past several mathematics lessons, my daughter has been intently studying the Pythagorean Theorem and it’s practical application (which is vast and includes everything from building a house to blowing your nose). It has been repeatedly used lesson after lesson to solve problems involving right triangles. Therefore, I presumed that in order to solve the problem in said question, we would need to once again apply the same concept.

Like I always say, presumptions are usually wrong and always dangerous.

My brain was absolutely determined to [unnecessarily] divide the house’s ‘roof’ section into two right triangles, calculate their respective areas, and add them all together. No matter how I divided the shape or tried to apply the Pythagorean, I simply couldn’t, for the life of me, figure it out. I was stumped.

Whether it was pride, embarrassment, or an inflated sense of self-sufficiency, I had to figure it out on my own. I don’t know why it took me so long to look outside of myself and to my greater community, but that’s exactly how I tend to be – stubbornly independent to a fault. My back will be severely bowed under the extraordinary weight of the things I am carrying, and I still won’t ask for help. I’m always like, ‘Hey, I’ve got this.” Even when I don’t. People that know me well are enthusiastically nodding their heads while reading it. You know what? I would be willing to bet a great many of you are exactly like this too. I know because you are Pilot Wives and it’s a trait honestly derived from necessity in this lifestyle. Stuff happens when he’s gone, we handle it alone. The end.

We are stubbornly independent!

However, feeling frustrated (and a little dumb) but mostly because I really needed to help my poor child comprehend the information, I finally decided to turn to the people I know always have my back (and the answers) – this community.

It took approximately a ² + b ² = c ² seconds for you to come back with the perfect response:

The answer [to your problem] is wine! You’re welcome!

Cheers! Pure genius, I tell you!! That’s why I love you gals (and guys). You always make me laugh! And laughter is salve for the wounded soul.

You are also incredibly smart. Before I could down my first glass of Chardonnay, you had the solution worked out including detailed diagrams and instructions to help those of us who might or might not be…a little slow on the uptake (me)! For the record, it was a matter of seeing the ‘roof’ of the shape as one big, obtuse triangle instead of two smaller right ones.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that the answer was sitting there repeatedly slapping me in the face the entire time. I had all the information that I needed (and some I didn’t) to solve the problem at hand, I was simply looking at it from the wrong angle – pun totally intended! I was actually complicating matters by overthinking everything (something else I tend to do frequently) and trying to force my incorrect presumptions onto the situation where they had absolutely no business.

It took a community of people who had experience with the type of problem I was struggling with to help me see it all clearly. It wasn’t that I was incapable or incompetent, I was simply stuck in a perspective rut.

What I really needed to do was think outside the box…or in this case, the triangle, with the help of some folks that ‘get it’. I was looking at the right triangles, which were not the right triangles!

Here’s the thing. I had all the ‘right’ information, I was just interpreting and applying it in the wrong ways! I couldn’t see through my own exhaustion, frustration, theories, superfluous information, and incorrect presumptions to find a solution on my own. I desperately needed outside perspective – you!

And isn’t that exactly like life and marriage, friends? (Come on, now! If you know me at all you knew this was coming…’right’?). We actually have everything we will ever need to live healthy, happy lives and to maintain strong aviation marriages right there in our carryon bags, but sometimes it’s the misinterpretation and incorrect application of the information that’s causing us to stumble.

Let me tell you a little secret about marriage – we all stumble. Every single last one of us. If we haven’t yet, we will. If people tell you that their marriage is all perfect all the time, they are either lying or maybe newlyweds. I’m still doubtful. We all go through perspective ruts in life, and that’s completely normal and okay. It doesn’t mean we need to give up, it means we need to approach things from a brand new angle!

Just know this – if you find yourself struggling today, you are not alone and there is hope. Some of the best marriages I have ever seen have gone through some of the worst struggles. They simply chose to work it out instead of abandon the journey.

I don’t know where you are today. Perhaps you are in a season where you are absolutely rocking it! You have blue skies and tailwinds without a lick of turbulence in sight. I totally hope so. If you are, just store this little formula away for an IFR kind of day.

But maybe you are here, marriage sucks, and you are ready to throw in the proverbial towel. I know someone reading this right now is feeling the pain. Sister…brother…don’t give up.

There are an infinite number of reasons why we find ourselves in a perspective rut. Perhaps you are so exhausted from the constant battering that life has given you that you cannot see past your own physical and emotional roadblocks – through, around, over, or under. Boy do I get that. Perhaps you are trying so hard to do marriage the way that’s [seemingly] ‘right’ for everyone else in the world that you are failing to compute that it is wrong for your circumstance. Perhaps you are overthinking things and complicating a simple problem. Perhaps you have applied presumptions to your spouse without actually taking a moment to hear/see the entire [true] picture from his/her perspective. Or perhaps you are so prideful, embarrassed, or stubbornly independent (did I mention…me?) that you are determined to do it all by yourself and have not reached out to allow others who have experience with this lifestyle – people who ‘get it’ – to speak positively into your unique marital circumstances.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million gazillion times – perspective is everything. Sometimes we need to step back from the problem, take a deep breath, reassess the information we have, see things from a different angle, and come up with a new formula for our marriages.

And sometimes we need other loving, compassionate people who are familiar with our particular lifestyle (or who are professionals trained to help us through these moments in life) to help us see things from a brand new angle! We call that community, friends.

You see, to find solutions of right triangles, you apply the Pythagorean Theorem; to find solutions for right marriages, you apply the FLY-thagorean Theorem!

To find solutions of right triangles, you apply the Pythagorean Theorem; to find solutions for right marriages, you apply the FLY-thagorean Theorem! Click To Tweet

FLY-thagorean Theorem: a ² + b ² = c ²

a = the ‘right’ altitude. If you have ever been in a plane you know that everything looks different from above. When our feet are firmly planted in our own muck, we can only see the bumpy path that lies right in front of us. We are prone to focus on every pothole and frustrating detour along the way because we cannot see what truly lies ahead. However, when viewed from 6,000 feet above, that same road will suddenly appear very differently! We no longer see the rut in the road where we are, but rather we see the breathtaking destination that lies just over that next hill or around the next bend. When viewed with some altitude, the speed bump that looked so big and intimidating from the ground suddenly seems small and insignificant.

We are human. We tend to view life from a very limited perspective – our own: the things we feel, the things we think, the things we are going through, the things we need, the things we like…or don’t. And so on and so forth. However, in order for marriages to heal and/or thrive we must see more than just ourselves. We must attempt to truly see our spouse as well – the things they feel, the things they think, the things they are going through, the things they need, the things they like…or don’t. We need the altitude perspective – the whole picture. We need to know that life does not end at every pothole; there is beauty just around the next bend. We just need to keep moving forward.

b = the ‘right’ baggage. Your baggage is the stuff you choose to carry along with you in life – for better or worse. And, friends, it is a choice, whether conscious or subconscious. We have to make a consorted effort to become more aware of what our personal carry-ons contain. Their contents consist of our past experiences, beliefs, current circumstances, faith, emotions and can be molded and folded by the people we allow to help us ‘pack’. The things we carry with us influence our reactions and responses (which, by the way are two different things) and can make or break a marriage. Some baggage is actually good, and some is very, very bad. Many of us are trying to take a whole lot of 32 oz bottles of liquid through the TSA line, and it’s holding us up!

There’s a lot of superfluous ‘stuff’ that we gather over the course of life. We are emotional pack rats. The thing is, you don’t need to take it all along the journey with you. Lay it all out on the bed, assess what you actually need to keep, and discard what you don’t. I guarantee your bag is going to get a heck of a lot lighter. Resentment, bitterness, negativity, defeatism, blame, anger, unforgiveness – these are things you should stop trying to F.L.Y. with. They are heavy items that weigh you down and make it hard for you to see your spouse with any clarity. Prayer, positivity, hope, compassion, love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness – these are the items you want to keep in your carry-on at all times because they are the tools you will need to solve any problem that you will encounter in your marriage and life.

c = the ‘right’ crew. We need to surround ourselves with people that ‘get it’ and who want to encourage us, support us, and live life together with us. Without them, we can feel isolated and lonely. We can quickly convince ourselves that we are the only ones that have ever faced whatever hurdle aviation is throwing at us today and cause us to give up too easily. It helps immensely to know that we are not alone on this journey. The community we choose supplies us with beautiful insight and new perspective that we have not previously considered. They have been there, done that and survived! Seeing successful, happy aviation marriages that are decades long gives us hope and inspiration. Community makes us laugh, they make us think, they make us better. They cry with us, they celebrate with us, they understand us. Community is an integral part of helping us F.L.Y.; and F.L.Y.-ing is an integral part of a happy, healthy marriage.

We do need to choose our crew very carefully, however. They must be people that want our marriages to succeed. Avoid negativity like the plague it is. What we pour into our cups will eventually runneth over into our lives. Choose only those people, groups, and sites who pour into and mentor your marriage, uplift you, and encourage you along the journey with positive perspective and fierce love. Life is too short; you don’t have time for that other junk. Throw all the garbage where it belongs – in the trash.

From time to time, we also need to employ some professional crew to help us along the journey. After all, we want the people flying our planes to have some serious knowledge, right? Counseling, marriage retreats or classes, and mentorships are wonderful ways to get or keep your marriage on the right runway and to help you see things from some new angles. We oftentimes view these resources as last resorts when they should actually (also) be used as a first line of defense.

Marriage is bigger than the difficult seasons. It is a lifelong vow that we made to honor, cherish, and love another broken, selfish, and sometimes frustrating human being. Click To Tweet

Look aviation family, marriage is bigger than the difficult seasons. It is a lifelong vow that we made to honor, cherish, and love another [broken, selfish, and sometimes frustrating] human being who (ironically enough seeing as how they are aviators) is also prone to view life from their own grounded muck.

We must constantly seek to apply the FLY-thagorean Theorem – achieve the right altitudes, carry the right baggage, and surround ourselves with the right crew. Sometimes the answer is clear to us, sometimes we have to work at it just a little bit harder, and sometimes we need a little bit of outside perspective to help us along the journey. That’s okay. We’ve all been there. But in the end marriage done ‘right’ is always worth it.

Yes, you might be struggling today, but remember that your journey is not over yet. There is immeasurable beauty just around the next bend; you just need some altitude to see it.

a ² + b ² = c ²

I love you, family. Keep FLY-ing.

Angelia (a fellow Pilot Wife)

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4 Comments

  1. Needed that today. Thank you

  2. That was excellent! Thank you for the reminders.

  3. I love your theory! My wife and I are both pilots at different airlines. It’s a great life but the challenges are many and there have been struggles. We continue to “Fly” the plane when all else gets ugly! 19 years and forever to go!

  4. Thank you for this great encouragement!

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