I’m a fan of movies that highlight personal transformation. One of my favorites is the 2012 film, Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring the incomparable actor, Denzel Washington. I rewatched it recently, and the line that echoed the most was, “They put me in a broken plane!”
In the movie, Washington’s character piloted a commercial plane that suffered devastating malfunction mid flight. The landing was miraculous; reenactment flight simulation attempts proved no other pilots could successfully land the plane.
Rather than be lauded a hero, as he would have presumably deserved, his talent and heroism was overshadowed by the fact he was drunk when he piloted the plane.
The emphatic response to being investigated by the authorities revealed the character’s inability to take ownership of his addictions. The movie delves into the toll of his disease on the pilot’s life, as well as the lives of others in his blast zone.
It wasn’t until faced with a choice between saving his reputation (by lying), or making his deceased lover a scapegoat, that his conscience illuminated his shadow.
I’m using this quote to illustrate a psychological point that seems pervasive in society. “They put me in a broken plane,” is a defense mechanism; it’s easier to justify an action—or an inaction—than to face an ugly truth. The example here is extreme, but the plane is symbolic of our lives.
In more basic terms, imagining the broken plane analogy in the context of our own lived experience opens us up to see where we fail to take ownership of our own messy parts.
Do we blame our inability to do something required of us, or perhaps wallow in our less than desirable circumstances by insisting that our plane—our life situation—was presented to us broken?
Where do we need healing? What is being reflected back to us? What can we not see through our own emphatic justifications?
On a higher note, and as the movie wonderfully demonstrates, transformational growth is always within reach if only we take a good hard look in the mirror. In doing so, we may see ourselves for the beautiful messy beings that we all are. 🤍🏼