The stairs going from the second to the first floor in the house I grew up in were very steep. When I was really young, I used to believe that I could step out at the top of the stairs and fly – that I would not fall and that I didn’t need to walk down the stairs. It was an exhilarating sensation even as it was a bit scary. It was scary because there was a part of me, the voice of reason that seemed to always be in my ear that warned me that if I tried to fly, I would fall and hurt myself. And worse, in attempting to fly, I would fail and failure was something I learned very early to avoid at all costs.
And so, slowly, I stopped feeling that inherent ability to step out into my world my way and let mySelf simply soar. That inner voice would tell me to consider the consequences and I came to believe that I should avoid anything at which I could not immediately excel. Failure was anathema.
I know now that I never really lost that inner feeling of being able to fly and the sensation of unmitigated joy that infused my whole being when I thought about it and experienced it. I know that there have been so many times in my life when I have felt the same sensation of soaring without restraint or constraint – of being totally immersed in what I was doing without any worry about outcomes.
When I think back, there are many times of soaring which come immediately into my consciousness: my very first piano exam which was, as I remember it, not scary but fun; playing handball which was something I could do for hours; writing always does it for me no matter what I write; getting lost playing Bach or Chopin or Beethoven; challenging myself to be able to walk a baby balance beam forward and backward and turn around; the times when I’ve sung and it has been free and easy and absolutely wonderful – me as the instrument and the expression of all that the words and melody bring to me; running down the stairs between Regal Road and Davenport and laughing as I enjoyed the speed and worked to keep up with myself; walking in the rain and getting drenched and laughing all the way home; teaching and coaching and knowing that how I worked with people changed them and changed me as well; writing a Calculus test in Grade 13 after having missed the entire week of introduction to it and passing the test – I just knew that I could do it; tying my hair in a pony tail by myself for the first time; riding my tricycle as fast I could down the street with our dog Bear running beside me; doing a cartwheel once a year on the front lawn of our house; skipping down the street and kicking my knees up as high as I could as I did; going down the stairs at home once a year on my hands and knees, head first – fun to see the world from a different perspective; learning anything new that really engages me; finally being able to master the breast stroke; my last singing exam which was for me alone.
And I know that there are many more things I could add to the list and being able to list them all really isn’t the point. The point is that, in living life from day to day, I lost the memories of all the times I’ve soared. I came to believe that I was earth-bound and life was heavy and ponderous. And, in doing that, I lost mySelf – my joy in challenging mySelf for me only, my joy in experiencing the world, my joy in creating and expressing what I feel in the way that resonates for me.
Now, I’ve reclaimed that essence of mySelf. I know that I can’t actually fly and that it’s a metaphor for how I can experience life and living. I know that I AM and that I can have that moment, that sense of free flight, whenever I CHOOSE now. I BELIEVE!
I encourage everyone to think about who you knew that you were [and not what others told you] when you were young or younger. Think about what that really means to you and for you. And choose to reconnect and reclaim that truth. It’s never too late or too soon for that matter to do that. And, in choosing to do that, your life will be changed. To paraphrase Stephen Sondheim: because you know you, you will be changed for good.