When I was a child, I was sure that I knew how to fly. I flew in my dreams all of the time. It was so effortless, so vivid, it had to be real. It was like swimming through air–as if I was so buoyant I couldn’t stay tethered by gravity. Something simple kept me bound to the earth. Once I figured it out, I’d undo the knot and head for the skies. If I could fly, surely I could do almost anything.
The almost got me. I learned about power and politics and started to see the limits of possibility. I learned time wasn’t infinite and that I could be lost and broken. I learned how to fear.
Every so often, I’d still dream of flying. When I’d wake up, I’d feel like I was missing a limb; some essential part of me had been replaced by an anvil that had “I can’t do that” etched in its side. I ached for weightlessness.
I have friends that choose a theme for the year, like hopeful, or gratitude or present. I suppose it’s like setting an intention after meditation. If you set a course for where you want to go, you’re more likely to get there. As I’ve said before, I’m a goal junkie. So I’ve chosen a theme for this year.
Embarking on any career in the shadow of turning 50 isn’t easy. Embarking on a writing career is lunacy. Doing both at once is a swan dive off a steep cliff. To write is to open up your soul every day, lay it out on a table and call the world over and ask for their opinion. Writing isn’t the only vocation with that property, but for me, writing exposes my vulnerabilities more than consulting or research did.
Yet, I feel more at peace.
I could be sensible. I’m an experienced business professional. I have connections, a solid resume, a history to draw from. Being sensible is the last thing I want. I’m tired of dragging that anvil around everywhere I go. I will have the audacity to be fearless.
Eating a box of chocolates is my usual way to tell the world “screw you, I’ll do what I want.” We all have a personal box of chocolates, that self-defeating, self-limiting thing we do to try to convince the world we aren’t afraid of what it was throwing our way. Instead, I vow to un-learn the lessons that hold me down, to remove the anvil of can’t and fly.
It’s a big sky out there. Join me.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Ken Bosma © 2008 Creative Commons