“I’m more than a bird, I’m more than a plane, I’m more than some pretty face beside a train.”-Five for Fighting
My mother tells me that the project has turned into a way of outdoing myself each week–which isn’t a problem, but rather an observation. I think that means it’s working. With each activity, each new risk, each new adventure, I gain more confidence in myself–and in the word yes. I’ve taught myself to refuse the word no, when it comes to just going for it. And that is a milestone in itself.
This week I’ve said yes to hang gliding in Middletown, New York for my first hang gliding experience. After signing the paper work that says if I die, I won’t sue, I get into the glider, and prepare for take off. And even though, I’m secure in the aircraft, I feel free–free to soar, free to fly, free to live.
We shoot into the air, and I can feel the brisk cold wind rush past my face. I watch as our altitude continues to climb: 500 feet, 600 feet, 1000 feet, 1500 feet, 2000 feet, and then our peak altitude 2700 feet. . My instructor tells me I can take my hands off the grips, and so I do. I put my arms out as if I am a bird–and I shut my eyes. All my thoughts disappear. I’m floating–left , right, down, and then back up again. My eyes are still closed but I can see clearly that this is where I belong–up in the clouds. I open my eyes back up, and I take in the world around me. I don’t want to lose this feeling–this feeling that nothing can knock me down, this feeling of being able to hold the entire world in my arms and hug her tight–this feeling that I am flying–this feeling that I am living. I continue breathing it in. I smile at the video camera–I wave to the traffic below, as if they can see my little hand way up high–I laugh with my instructor –I admire the beauty of the earth. And as we start our descent, I close my eyes, once more, and hold on tight. I hold on tight to this memory–to this moment–to this feeling.
The truth is that if I had never set out on this quest this year; I wouldn’t be in Middletown, New York in a hang glider harness on a frigid fall day in November– the coldest day they’ve taken the aircraft out yet this season (even the plane engine for our tow didn’t want to start right away!)– But I did set out on this quest year–and I did end up here in this harness on a frigid fall day in November–and I did give myself permission to do all these gravity-defying activities—And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I was also lucky enough to have my friend Naomi along for the ride–check out her hang gliding experience!