Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence . . .
(John Gillespie Magee Jr.)
HUMAN FREEDOM IS AS MARVELOUS AS IT IS MYSTERIOUS. The ability to envision a more deeply enjoyed life (and then to make choices that lead toward that life) is an ability possessed by no other creatures on the planet except us. The birds may have wings of a sort, but only we have wings that can fly in the firmament of true joy.
Concerning wings, we need to help one another. The pulverizing forces of discouragement tend to destroy our dreams. At times, it takes great effort just to keep going, and the idea of living out our dreams seems silly. So we need to have those who will nudge us out of the nest, so to speak. Each of us needs to believe that our friends are capable of flying — and we need to help them go ahead and do it.
It’s a great thing to see others find their wings and begin to fly. And if we’ve had any role in encouraging them to take flight, that makes the experience all the more gratifying. It is one of life’s truest pleasures to witness someone else’s discovery of their freedom.
But what about our own wings? All of us have people in our past who have helped us learn to fly. We need to love these people. They may never have gotten any reward for encouraging us except the simple joy of keeping hope alive. We can repay them richly now by living the kind of life they always knew we were capable of. We can determine that their encouragement of us will not have been in vain.
Today, take every chance you can get to go outside and look at the sky. Doesn’t its expanse entice you and invite you upward? If you see birds on the wing, aren’t you intrigued by their freedom and enriched by the thought of greater possibilities in your life? Let yourself believe in these possibilities, for they are truly yours. Like everybody else, your performance up to now has been less than perfect — but today is the first day of the rest of your life. So take courage. You may have some baggage, but you’re not earthbound. Leave the nest and fly.
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).