Have I learned to fly?
Throughout my life, there is no doubt that I have taken significant risks, often running pell-mell into whatever obstacle faced me.
Is that flight or
a headlong dash into darkness, my personal version of a game of hyper-charged pin the
tail of the donkey with real consequences?
Today, I admit I am wary of flight. Remembering Icarus, I suppose. I am a decent wing
builder but when it comes to strapping them on my back and heading toward the sun, my
feet develop a case of sticky sole syndrome. Writing. Painting. Getting that doctorate.
Heading to Europe to see the world from a bicycle. Quitting a job with no new job on the
horizon. Going off the grid.
Depression is my wing-spring buster. Taking true flight is no good unless you can sustain
the airborne euphoria long enough to see the benefits of the journey. My flights have
great take-offs. My life glides for a while, on a parallel to the surface of the earth, but
there is that awful moment, when, without getting anywhere near the sun, I panic that the
sun will be too much for me. That the light is too bright that high, and that I will go blind
mingling with those who have seen the success of the sky.
And the ground always hits me hard.
Falling intensely and ironically, with eyes wide open. And then, like a human Superball, I
bounce. And bounce. And rebound. And bizarrely put the wings on again. Decades of
ground-breaking tumbles and incredibly, exciting and frightening bounces.
Why? Why can’t I ever land on a cloud that has some kind of magic quality that would
allow me to float on high, for just a while. Long enough to say that I saw the heights of
my own humanity?
What would make a difference? Self-confidence? A never I care attitude that could put
the depression at bay—make the ability outshine my urgent need to decry that the ability
I have always wanted in a “Forbidden Planet” kind of way to “slip those surly bonds of
earth,” Magee’s way of describing his conception of flight. Journalist in space. Yep, that
would be me if they would take me. In a heartbeat. I am not afraid of physical adventure.
Mountains or undersea. Or riding in a rustic plane over a West Virginia countryside with
an aging pilot/poet who kept me entertained with his words Magee-like. That I can
Tell me I have talent. Tell me I should be doing more with my life and watch the
fall unfold. Watch the wall take the angles off my nose.
Touch the face of God. Is that possible for me in this earthly configuration of body and
soul? I would like to think that in some way I do that everyday, especially those days
when I am able to somehow master my own sense of inadequacy and look at what can
actually be accomplished. He is always leaning in my direction and dipping his face to
my fingers. I just need to learn to keep my wings flapping.