Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let Your Spirit Fly

One of my favorite dreams is about flying. There is something powerful about defying gravity and soaring above the earth, or perching from the top of a tall building like a bird. And no, I’m not tempted to mimic our feathered friends and leave deposits on people’s windshields. This blog is about erasing negativity, not creating more nastiness.

Flying dreams make me think back to when I was a little girl. I remember someone coming to the school and giving us an inspirational talk about how we could be – or do – anything we wanted. That wasn’t entirely true We weren't allowed to chew gum or leave school early. I had tried both of those activities and got in trouble. But the future did seem to have a lot of possibilities. My friend, Laurie, decided she wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to fly. My problem is I didn’t want to fly in an airplane – too many gadgets to worry about. I just wanted to do it on my own – like Superman or Mighty Mouse.

Most of the kids took the message with a grain of salt. We were probably seven years old and already a significant number of my classmates had put a limit on what they thought they could achieve in life. Laurie’s dad was a doctor. She wanted to be a nurse. I don’t think it occurred to any of us that she could be a doctor. This was the early 1960s and female doctors were still a rarity. As far as most of my classmates were concerned, Laurie had about as much chance of being a doctor as I had of flying.

A couple years later I decided I wanted to be a writer. I had entertained the idea of a couple other careers – the first female professional baseball player, a nurse, a pediatrician, but I decided writing was an achievable dream. Fortunately, I believed I could attain this goal, and so did my mother. I took journalism classes, wrote for the school newspapers and even won a few contests. The first story I submitted to a newspaper, the Arizona Republic, was picked up. I earned a whopping $30. My first submission to the college newspaper won first place in the Rocky Mountain Community College Journalism Competition.

Then reality set in.

Everyone told me how hard it was to be published. Tales of constant rejection – even for the most famous and talented scribes - circled around my head like mosquitoes in a swamp. My idealism and optimistic mindset were severely challenged. I had occasional victories, but it was always after a difficult battle. There were times when I thought I just didn’t have what it takes to succeed as an author. Fortunately, I’m a stubborn cuss. People may have varied opinions about whether or not I have any talent, but I will only be defeated if I give up. And I have no intention of doing that.

Which brings me to my point (and yes I do have one). I still want to fly. I have a laywoman’s knowledge of how gravity works, but I’m still hopeful that someone will invent a gravity belt, or some other contraption, and I’ll shoot up into the air like Dick Tracy.

The other day I took a walk along the Sacramento River. There is a beautiful park along the river’s edge and I inhaled the scent of the trees and watched the birds. The sights, sounds and smells took me back to the nature walks I went on when I was a kid. All of a sudden, the child in me was on board. I skipped down the trail. Why is it that almost no one over 10 skips anymore? I felt more alive than I had in a long while. I watched the birds fly overhead and imagined I could join them in flight. In my mind’s eye, I could see the top of the trees and path below. My heart raced with joy.

I returned to reality and enjoyed the rest of my earth-bound hike. But those few minutes where I let my heart and mind experience flight brought me incredible joy. On the return back to the motel, I felt an exuberance I hadn’t felt in a while. Everything seemed possible again. The energy and creative thoughts that seemed unable to percolate through my system, were now flowing through me like river water tumbling over rocks.

Reality is what we make it. Was the flight I experienced imagination? Probably. Do I care? Not one bit. Perhaps my earth-bound body was on terra firma, but my spirit was flying – and I won’t let it stay grounded for too long again.

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