Failure & Flying

I remember when I fell in love with flying. I was headed to Chicago to celebrate a friend’s bachelorette. I had flown dozens of times before and had always been anxious, but not this time. As the plane took off, I closed my eyes, felt my stomach drop and marveled at the miracle of it all. How incredible that two young men had discovered the secret to flight! I thought of them on the beach, trying and failing, trying and failing and how they must have had days where they felt lost and defeated but something spurred them to continue trying. Before that day, I had always hated taking off because it felt uncontrollable and unnatural. It seemed like it shouldn’t be happening – a great hunk of metal leaving the ground with no magical strings to hold it up.

I wonder about how many things in our lives we can apply that analogy to. How something can seem scary and unnatural for so long until one day, it doesn’t. One day we look at it with new eyes and we marvel in it’s invention and evolution. We consider those who experienced it first and what it must have felt like and we sigh with knowing breath because we have now stood there too. It makes me wonder what it is that makes us most of us keep trying, even when we fail.

And we all fail. Most of us repeatedly.

I think maybe I got over my fear of flying that day because I’m over my fear of falling in or out of love. What’s more uncontrollable then love? Humans have used the falling metaphor for love for ages because it’s accurate – you just fall. No ropes. No bungee. And you never know if the landing will be soft or if it will break you. I think most of us hope we never land; that instead we just keep falling.

Or flying.

A few months ago I wrote this little poem:

Two years ago I was
shoulders deep in the warm waters of love.
Now that I’ve waded
out and am comfortable
feeling the sun all on my own,
I’m finding I’m afraid
to even stick my toes in.

I thought I was writing about how I was scared to fall in love again. Because, in many ways I was and still am. But really I am afraid of forgetting how comfortable I am on my own. I would gladly dive in, head first, as long as the person I’m jumping after promises to let me swim back to shore, by myself, occasionally. In fact, I want him to tell me to do it. To encourage it. Because I want him so in love with the woman that I am on my own, that he doesn’t want me to become anything other than a better version of that woman.

I know my soul speaks in my poetry because it reveals itself to me days, weeks or months after I write the words. I wonder if other writers struggle with that slight disconnect? Between heart and soul – where they talk to each other but rarely commune. I keep trying to bring them together more often.

But I keep failing. And I’m learning that it’s ok.

That one day it will happen. It will be beautiful in the most remarkable way and the result will be uncontrollable.


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