Complacency Kills - May 27, 2011

"As any pilot will tell you, staying alert and fending off complacency is primary to staying alive..."

As any pilot will tell you, staying alert and fending off complacency is primary to staying alive. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve landed at a particular airport, or how intimately we know the regional terrain or weather, we adhere to the adage, “complacency kills.” It reminds us to continually see things as they really are. It’s a challenge and it takes discipline.

Many things I learned in the cockpit I’ve found analogous to life on the ground. We become accustomed to our routines and surrounding and the “complacency kills” our senses.

On this account, I have it easy at the moment, as I’m fairly new to Santa Fe and desert living. Everything seems fresh and interesting. Things smell different. Look different. Are different. The sun is intense on the skin. The images are intense on the noggin’.

Tell me, is Santa Fe always so full of sensations and surprises? Or am I just paying more attention at the moment? Take for instance my first 24 hours returning to town after a long winter away. My partner and I went to Santa Fe Baking Co. and settled into a sunny table outside. At the next table over a woman ate her breakfast burrito with a whistling parrot perched her shoulder. Cool! The following morning, I spotted a bobcat slinking just feet past our kitchen window. Sensational! Later that afternoon at Whole Foods, a fashionable transvestite passed down the aisle in a red dress and cowgirl boots. Giddyup!

Is this exceptional or normal for the “City Different?” The title of this town sure seems to match up! Last summer, I went to the Albertsons grocery store at De Vargas. At the checkout line, I stood behind a portly man. He began singing a beautiful aria, the depth of his voice booming over the cashier’s head, until his groceries had been rung up, bagged and receipt placed in hand. Then he existed stage right out the glass doors.

Yet another day, while riding my Vespa, I came to a stop signal on St. Francis next to a burley man on a Harley. I looked over and discovered a teddy bear riding shotgun behind him. I smiled. He smiled. The light turned green.

I am not making this stuff up! How delightful it is to live among such diversity, expression and play. Though I wonder, will a day come when I’ll not notice? Will I become complacent to my surroundings and fail to observe these -- life as performance art -- sightings? I’d love to hear your stories. Any encounters out there you’d like to share?