Did you ever dream that you could fly?
I have. It’s been a dream I have, every so often. There I am, soaring above the earth. Looking down to see everything – all the buildings and all the people – so small. Seeing the world rushing below me as I race ahead at 500 miles an hour.
It’s a funny kind of dream for someone like me to have, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m terrified of heights. Once you get me higher than about five stories up, I start to get nervous shivers and a tingling in my stomach. If I’m standing on a balcony, I can never get too close to the edge. And I’ll usually give the windows a wide berth as well.
Secondly, I’m not a big fan of the nearest equivalent we have to unassisted flight – i.e. flying on an airplane. I don’t like the noise. I don’t like the feeling of being constricted in a tiny cabin. I hate the tedium as hours go past and yet you seem barely closer to your destination. And don’t get me started on turbulence.
And yet, every time I watch a bird surge into the air, I can’t help feeling a twinge of jealousy. I love watching birds as they soar from branch to branch. I love the way they can take off, and how they can perform complicated aerial maneuvres with such instinctive simplicity. It’s just second nature to them, requiring as much thought as walking does to us.
When I watch the birds, I forget about my fear of heights and my ambivalence towards airline travel. All I can think of is how wonderful it must be to be able to take to the air with little more than a casual flap of my wings. I’m sure I would have no reticence or fear if I possessed that amazing ability. I would fly and fly and fly. I would never even bother to look down.
I may not be a bird. I may not be able to really know what it feels like to fly unassisted. But I can always imagine what it must feel like, and it’s that imagining that fuels my dreams. Watching the birds reminds me that the most wonderful thing about being alive is imagination. It’s what helps us to feel that there’s more to life than what we can simply see and feel.
When I use my imagination, that’s when I really feel like I can take flight.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as