As I walked home the other day I saw a large flock of birds dropping, swooping and ascending as one. I've always been fascinated by the art and science of flight. Literature and history documents scores of designs of flying machines and flight suits dating back to the Grecian period. Major advances in flight gear can be found during the Renaissance period, although none of these concepts appear to actually achieve human flight.
I remember creating my own wings. I was 12 years old. The wings consisted of cardboard cut in the shape of a gliders wings tied from arm to arm with rope. The day of the jump was windy, very windy. A perfect day, I felt, for flying. My jump base was the four feet high stair column of the front porch. While attempting to tie the wings to my arms the wind was so strong it blew me back several times.
Wind on Wing
Feeling that wind power blow me over was exciting to say the least. My arms finally slid into the cardboard wings I climb the steps and onto the porch column, taking a deep breath I wonder if the four foot jump might be a bit high. "I must do this" I conclude. "Take the jump." I step back and jump forward. Up I go, down I drop and roll on the soft ground. There a lay on my back thinking "this was the first attempt. Next time I will wait for a strong gust of wind." Proud of the attempt I think about how I could improve the wings. The idea of designing wings and making the big jump on that windy day was both physically and intellectually stimulating.
Yesterday I watched a cool documentary about wing suit jumping. Now-a-days wing suite jumping has advanced to the point that a jumper only has to don suite, jump off a high cliff, turn up vertically and he or she can fly for several miles at a time. I suddenly realize that it's only a matter of time when we will be able to put on a suit and fly for miles like bird from low flat surfaces to high plateaus.
Birds learn after a few nudges from the nest how to commandeer the art of flight and once they have done this just a few times instinct and experience take over and they are off and flying. Birds perform amazing in flight feats such as bomb diving to catch fish. Swooping onto insects, in flight mating rituals and dodging four footed predators on land.But the flight suit wing is not so much patterned after the bird as it is the flying squirrel. An experienced sky-jumper learns to use aeronics elevation and descending techniques as well as careful terrain mapping for safe landing and other forms of navigation to reach ones destiny.
Interestingly the very ones who made advances in wing suite engineering seem to have taken one jump too many cutting short a promising career in advanced human flight. We await the next courageous designer/jumper to perfect the craft.
While sky jumping in wing suits has it's thrills it also has some very practical applications such as fuelless flight, land surveying and the ability to capture unique aerial views. Like sky jumping there is something to be said about taking the jump into life itself and learning to level off while flying not on air but through time. As the earth itself is speedily hurtling through space without it's passengers ever knowing it.
Ascending Over Time
We traverse time and space day by day making plans, setting goals, charting our course and reaching our destination. With each day we gain more experience and that experience elevates us enabling us to enjoy the depth and height of acquired wisdom inconceivable to those of lesser years. We learn how to navigate the air and scope the terrain. We learn how to steer clear of the rocky places while learning to descend on long flat soft level ground.
To learn to fly we shed our masks of pride that hides the fear of disappointment buried deep inside of self and estranged relationships. Putting off much needed time to hear their side of the story we remain dormant, restricted and confined to the ground. But each time we learn to listen and hear the other side of the story we are better able to forgive what once was and become transformed as if taking wing and ascending, gliding and seeing for the first time the big picture of our life. The way things really were, really are and what it was meant to be.
As we sweep through time decade by decade reaching greater heights of understanding and compassion we learn to better commandeer the vessel of self. Dropping low we swoop down and capture rewards and privileges made possible only by forgiving. And as we share life lessons from those behind us with those beside us for the sake of those ahead of us our lives become as one flock dropping, swooping and ascending through life as a flight on wings.