I discovered that I can fly.
Now, mind you, I've thought I could fly twice before. The first time was about four years ago. I had a dream in which I realized that I could fly. I spent the dream soaring effortlessly through the air, enjoying my new found freedom. I'd never had such a realistic sensation of flying before and wanted everyone to enjoy the wonder of it all, so when I woke up in the morning, still groggy and not thinking clearly yet, I couldn't wait to share the good news with my husband. When I opened my mouth to explain to him the basic mechanics of human flight--and they were indeed very basic and I knew he would pick up the skill easily--I realized with a great deal of sadness that it had all been a dream. I couldn't really fly after all.
I was crushed at first, but then grateful. At least I'd had the opportunity to fly, even if it had been a dream. The sweet sensation lingered.
The second time I got to fly was a year later. This time was also in a dream and I was quicker to recognize the fact that it was only a dream, but enjoyed it anyway. Flying is truly a fabulous thing. I didn't have the urge to share it with everyone that time, but rather just savored it alone, smiling throughout the day at the memory of it.
But last week, it was different. I could fly. I had the strongest urge to lift off as I had done in my dreams previously, so I did. It worked. I could twist and loop, stretch out flat to gain speed, dive, recover, shift to the left or the right, slow to a stop and drop effortlessly to the ground again to walk like I always had before. It was amazing. I was free from the binding chains of gravity, using it only selectively, when I wanted to be bound by it. I was free, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world, like I had been meant all along to do this and was just now awakening to the truth.
But then I regained contact with the cold, hard ground of reality. This was probably just a dream again, like it had been twice before. I lifted off again, just to see if I had imagined it. No, I could really fly this time, it seemed. I pinched myself. No change. I went in the house and splashed cold water on my face. These are the things that would awaken a person from dreaming, right? Going back out into the yard, I lifted off again, just as easily as ever. It wasn't a dream. Oh, the joy!
I experimented a little more, perfected some of my maneuvering skills, and then had a sudden realization--I could make money off of this! I quickly lowered myself to the ground and looked around to make sure no one had seen me flying. It was good that I lived out in the country, blocked off from the view of roads by towering pine trees. The news media would pay dearly for footage of me flying, as I had certainly never heard of anyone else who could do such a thing. If there were others who knew how, they had not yet been discovered. The local media would want exclusive rights to me. I would do interviews and even give lessons--to the highest bidders only, of course. The financial woes that have plagued our family over the years were over, if only I could be smart about how to handle my newly discovered skill. I must be extremely cautious not to let anyone film me, even from a distance, for even grainy cell phone footage, published to YouTube, would cheapen the value of it. No, flying would have to be kept private until I had made a fair amount of money off of it, and even then, if I was really smart about it, it could continue to be a steady source of income for our family.
But then the doubts began to creep in again. Who was I to think I could actually fly? Unassisted human flight was the stuff of dreams, not reality. I began once again to go through the rituals people do to check and see if they are dreaming. I pinched myself repeatedly until it hurt and again I splashed water on my face. I didn't wake up. I tested my ability. Still there. It was real--better than any dream could ever be. Exhilaration flooded my soul and I launched myself up into the air just high enough to do a few twists and barrel rolls without being seen by anyone else. Caution and discipline were in order, if I was going to do this right and make maximum use of this amazing gift.
I continued to plot my course regarding how to contact and negotiate with the media. I talked to my husband and my kids, demonstrating my ability and making sure they were on board with the newly forming media relations policy. We were all so excited. I just couldn't get over the fact that it was real this time. I remembered the other dreams so clearly and they were great, but this time it was real. I could fly.
You can imagine my disappointment when my alarm went off.
It had all been a dream. Again. Even though I had doubted the veracity of the experience from within the dream and had repeatedly attempted to wake myself up from it, it was still just a dream.
Throughout that next day, several times, I had the urge to launch myself into the air again. I remembered how. My muscles seemed to know exactly what to do and actually felt restless to fly again. It was the strangest thing to have an actual physical sensation, this faux muscle-memory urge, to do something impossible, as if I had really done it. All of me, body and soul, longed to fly. Even now, as I write this, I can close my eyes and take a deep breath at the memory of it all and still feel the sensation of rapid elevation gain in the pit of my stomach--very similar to the feeling of going up in a very fast elevator in a high-rise building, but with the accompanying sensation in my arms and legs of not only lifting off, but also employing subtle shifts in position in order to affect course, speed and direction.
It is, at once, a glorious sensation, and a terribly frustrating one, for it comes with the knowledge of reality, the knowledge of limitations, the knowledge of the irresistible pull of gravity upon the human form.
So what is it about flying? Why does it feel so very natural in my dreams, like we were meant to do this all along? Why do my muscles still ache with the memory of it and the longing to do it again?
I am a firm believer in a heavenly afterlife to be spent in close communion with my creator, even though writing it thus looks so silly and uneducated to many. I have never been attracted to the images of heaven in which we all dress in poorly fitting white robes; grow chubby, cherubic cheeks; and flit and float about on tiny flapping wings beneath our sparkly pipe cleaner halos while strumming harps among the cottony clouds. Really, that sounds pathetically boring and not at all in line with the Biblical previews that I read. I do hope, however...hope upon hope...that we get to fly--like I did in my dreams, or maybe even better. Why would I have such a longing for it if it can never come true?
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
I will remember the sweet freedom of flying. And I will hope.