Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Gift of Flight

Sometimes, especially when I find myself ensnared in the metal trap of a traffic jam, one of hundreds just like me, each of us caged inside our respective vehicles - hands on wheels, eyes straight ahead - my mind tends to wander right out of my car and away to the wildest of places.  I often find myself playing the solitary game of “what if”.  No doubt, you are familiar with this game, perhaps even playing it yourself on especially boring occasions.  One plays the game simply by imagining scenarios that are wildly divergent from the usual routine of one’s life, mulling over the myriad of resulting possibilities that arise from questions such as.....“what if I won the lottery”... “what if I had been born on another continent”.. “what if my parents had been wildebeests”....  you know, that sort of thing.  

Trolling through the index of all the most entertaining “what ifs” the other afternoon as I sat on the highway going nowhere fast, I came to the inevitable “what if I could have a superpower, which one would I want? ”... one of my favourite what ifs from childhood.  Considering this proposal from the prospective of an adult instead of a child caused me to reject the answer I always gave as a little girl.  In those days,  I would have wished for the ability to fly, which of course, remains a tantalizing prospect to ponder.  However, now I realize all too well the sort of inconveniences the gift of flight would bring to the recipient.  I can just picture it... there I would be, happily swooping over the fields, diving with the seagull, racing the honeybee,  only to return home, land upon my rooftop,  and behold a crush of horrid reporters and film crews lined up in my street, anxious to record my latest excursion for the nightly news, or worse.  It is easy to imagine that one might eventually become a prisoner in one’s own home, unable to ever lift off for a spin over the treetops without a most unwelcome audience of shutter clicking note takers. That would be a serious downside to the owning the ability to fly and, for myself, one quite impossible to overcome.

Of course, these were problems I never considered as a little girl as I watched Mary Poppins drift through the foggy skies of London holding on to nothing more than her parrot head umbrella, touching down lightly at Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane with every hair in place.  Her entire descent seemed utterly plausible to me.  I looked on, transfixed, as Peter Pan sprinkled fairy dust over the Darling children, enabling them to easily follow him right out their bedroom window.... turning at the first star on the left, going straight on till morning.  
Seemed simple to me.

Being the child that I was, naturally the time came when I had to try this out for myself.  I can clearly remember the sunny afternoon when, as a six year old,  I stood with my dog atop a neighbour’s stone wall about fifteen feet above their back garden thinking.... I bet I can fly, too.  I just bet I can.  So strong was my conviction that of course, yes, I jumped, leaving my little terrier alone on the wall, no doubt wishing fervently that she possessed the gift of speech, for surely she would have attempted to talk me out of it.  But with the anticipation of sailing far up over the pine trees shining like fairy dust in my head, I jumped without giving the matter a second thought.

And it was as though Isaac Newton arm wrestled Tinkerbelle in that briefest fraction of a second that I hung with my hope in midair. And of course, Isaac won.  Most decidedly.  Gravity wasted no time in claiming me for its own and I crashed to the ground below, which would have been the end of the story had my left leg not landed on a nasty piece of rock, breaking in three places.  The poor leg was placed in a cast and I received quite a bit of attention, which was rather thrilling for awhile.  Everyone assumed of course that I had simply slipped and fallen - a typical childhood accident.  Only my dog and I knew the truth, and we weren’t talking.

I suppose this event should have doused me with doubt and convinced me that magic and dreams are just faint wisps of smoke to be blown out by the gales of reality.  But my failed attempt only showed me that I myself did not possess the particular gift of flight.  It never once made me doubt that Mary and Peter had it.  I simply turned my thoughts to all the other gifts that perhaps could be mine.
Like time travel, for instance. 
 Now there’s something I’d most definitely like to try.

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
C. S. Lewis


  1. I am sorry for your childhood injury. Since childhood I've had dreams of flying, countless, still do. They are amazing, and it usually takes just the right gust of wind to get me started. I always try to share the 'how to's' with others below me but no one is able to join in the fun with me.
    I've also wanted to be a time traveler, and to be invisible. Sigh. I suppose many days I am invisible, and I travel through time in my subconscious, so I suppose all my super hero abilities have been realized. Love the post, love the painting.

  2. That is a shame, but you have written a beautiful post. thank you

  3. Dear Pamela, You will think me the most unimaginative living person on the planet when I confess that, in moments of utter boredom of which, happily there are few, it has never occurred to me to play the game, What if......

    That is until now [when I am not at all bored, but inspired]. It is such a lovely idea and one I intend to adopt immediately, or at least when next I am watching paint dry!!

  4. I used to fly in my dreams a lot until I was well into my 20's - if not 30's. Then I guess the kids made sure I was too tired for lift off! :)

  5. What a precious story Pamela-you rascal! I have frequent dreams that I can fly and it's always just what one would imagine~dreamy!

  6. Love it Pamela...I managed to get to the top of a tree hut with my recently purchased Mary Poppins umbrella and carpet bag filled with all the bits and pieces any girl at the time would have had when she was entranced by Mary Poppins. Yes, I did hurt but luckily I did not break anything. That cured me of thinking about flying on my own for good...but I still love Mary...
    Jeanne :)

  7. Funnily enough, I was muttering "time travel" to myself as I read this charming post.

    I particularly want to time-travel in appropriate clothing, though. No travelling back to Edwardian London in my blue jeans!

  8. Being the queen of the klutzes, I would not dare try to fly, but, my overactive imagination took me to many a far away place. When I was about the age of your first flight, I had a very peculiar family that lived in one of the tiles in the bathroom that kept me occupied for many hours with a little girl just my age. Wasn't that convenient?

    My family could not see the little and peculiar family and were not always so understanding of the time I kept the door closed. No imagination. I inherited it all.

    Thanks for the great post!

  9. Hi Pamela,

    You have shared a lovely post and painting.
    I have always loved the quote, from C.S Lewis and I think we can all dream a little and fly to a special place, now and again.


  10. I love reading your posts. I always wanted to fly when I was little too. Until a friend told me that she taught herself to fly in her dreams by triggering her flight instinct whenever she saw her hands in her dream. So now I frequently fly in my dreams, simply by looking at my hands. One perk is that if I remind myself before I go to sleep, I can fly as an owl!
    Time travel would be wonderful. As long I could come back whenever I wanted to. A good book is as colse as I get.

  11. "...a crush of horrid reporters and film crews lined up in my street, anxious to record my latest excursion for the nightly news, or worse."

    I believe, Ms. Pamela, that you have just answered the question: "Why is Superman the only one of the Superheros whose alter-ego is a non-hero?"

  12. But flying is so simple. You just have to keep both feet off the ground. I do it all the time, in my dreams.

  13. Pamela, I play the "what if..." game too. Almost daily on my drive to and from work.
    I am sorry to hear about your childhood fall, yet I am pleased you have retained your inquisitive nature.

  14. Hi,
    I feel sorry for the child-you, but I also feel glad that you still have dreams and in some way believe in faires :)

    Keep on flying !!


  15. Good job you didn't fling yourself off anything higher or we would be denied the pleasure of your blog. I am a great daydreamer myself and believe that these pleasant flights of fancy enrich our lives enormously.

    Long may you dream your dreams.

  16. I never had the dream to fligh..and come to think of it..I never wanted to have super powers..but I do dream about being visited at night by a sweet spirit asking me what very special talent I would like to have..well,being a great singer or piano when I wake up in the morning ..going downstairs, open the piano and play a concert of Rachmaninoff...or Chopin,and then sing an aria from Puccini...Leaving my husband(and myself)flabbergasted!
    Lovely post Pamela

  17. Dear Pamela,
    It's a good job that you didn't decide to jump off of the roof of your house. I don't think that we would be enjoying your delightful memories and words today, if you had !!
    I sometimes wonder that, if we could do things like fly, nothing would be as exciting anymore . I think that it is good that we can't do certain things as they remain a mystery and stay magical. I think that I prefer to imagine and dream that I can do it !
    If you had been able to fly, Mary and Peter wouldn't have that same wonder and magic about them.
    Please try to remain with your feet firmly on the ground, Pamela, and continue to play, 'What If.....' XXXX

  18. My flying prowess is unfortunately limited to my dreams. The nightmares of falling through a rickety wooden bridge spanning a chasm and waking up in a sweat just before hitting the rocky rapids below have changed into a gentle drifting down the few hundred feet and landing gently on my feet. Sometimes having grown up and being secure in knowing who you are does have its advantages.
    Hope your broken leg healed up well and left no after effects.

  19. What a memory to cherish...and how extraordinary that your fall did not end your belief in Mary and Peter...I would not have had that courage of conviction as a child...much too cautious...

    As an adult I have occaisional dreams of flying...and they always leave me with the most amazing, uplifted feeling when I wake in the morning...

  20. Ouch. I have to say though, i was right there with you and would have happily held your hand and jumped, too! I have always wanted to fly - still do - and in my daydreams I succeed - now you will be in those daydreams with me.
    Let me know how the time traveling goes! =)
    xo Isa

  21. I have often dreamed of traveling through time to different eras. And of being a top-notch karate expert (for protect while traveling I suppose!) Your writing style is both enchanting and inspiring!

  22. If you hadn’t become an interior designer, you could have been a novelist. I play the “what if “ game all day! I loved Mary Poppins too.

    Poor you, to be victim of your lively imagination. I’m glad the childhood accident didn’t clip your imaginative wings.

    I used to dream of being able to control objects and people with my thoughts. Now I do that in my novels. I never thought about that symmetry until now.

    Thanks so much for connecting Gigi with me at Fort Popham of all places. We seem to share a lot more in common too.

  23. Pamela you have made me recall my own memories of doing the same. Jumping high off of something and thinking for that fraction of a second that you really are going to fly! :)
    So sorry you hurt yourself :(
    I fly in dreams sometimes now.
    Time travelling. Now I would also love to try ;) x

  24. A beautiful story, Pamela, even though it did contain a broken leg. I used to imagine myself flying all the time as a girl. But instead of stright up like Mary Poppins or outstretched like Superman, I could sit cross-legged and simply levitate to whatever height I wished and watch everything below me, comfortably seated on, well, nothing. Writing about it now, I can still "feel" it. Thanks for that memory.

  25. I hope time travel will be much safer Pamela....Enjoy your weekend and please stay firmly put on the ground ;) xv

  26. OH! What disappointment that must have been! I often had flying dreams, and indeed both myself and my sister discovered as adults that we both have the same childhood memory of her flying up the stairs while o holiday! How envious I was...

    And on that theme, if you have a moment, do take a look at this video by one of my favourite bands. It makes me cry every time. The very last moments of it are heartstoppingly beautiful!

    C x

  27. Clara's comment about the youtube video is worth the look! Lovely surprise thanks for a view of another world

  28. Beautiful post, Pamela. I love to fly in my dreams but haven't tried it in real life. Where would your time travel destination be?

  29. Hello P&E,

    "Isaac won". Pity, that!

  30. I too, jumped. I fell. But I still believe. I fly in my dreams and WHAT IF is my favorite game; I go there so frequently sometimes I fear I can't get back.

    My superpower would be invisibility, until I am sure the first time I got my feelings hurt eavesdropping.

    I don't always comment, but your blog lightens my day so frequently. The illustrations, the poems and of course you and Edward. There's no blog like yours!

  31. As a child I used to spend hours on the swing in our garden and pretended I was flying, although I was never tempted to jump off!
    M x

  32. My sympathies on the failed attempt to fly. I had a similar experience at about the same age from the roof of a neighbor's garage. But unlike you, there was no rock so I only broke a foot...which didn't even warrant a cast, only an Ace bandage. Oh, the indignity!

    Time travel would be my choice too. Done properly, nobody will know you're gone, hence no news crews on your return. Only you know you ever left. Can be done from a car stuck in traffic, or at a restaurant with a b-o-r-i-n-g date. (-:

  33. Never heard of "What If". But I have heard of wanting to fly and time travel. Yes, indeed, I'll take time travel just for a while and fly back to my nest after.

    Please remain on your roof in future, x. Word verification is rednes(s), !


  35. I too love the 'what ifs' and the 'wouldn't it be wonderful ifs' of life. I was always a daydreamer less so as I get older. Sounds like you had a very nasy accident when testing your flying abilities:)

  36. Very glad your injury wasn't even worse Pamela. That is a long way for a child to fall. I dream about being able to fly too...still..haha.

    I really enjoyed your list of things as to why spring is special to you. My favourites are the vintage wallpaper - gorgeous colours, and the green fridge. You have very good taste.

  37. Such an interesting post and comments Pamela.My powers when dreaming are not piano playing or karate as mentioned, but ballet dancing while floating through the air, executing the most difficult of manouvres with ease and skill, so unlike the real world where as a child, I struggled through ballet lessons with a double jointed body,and an impossibly long big toe which protested at restrictions in ballet footwear.Didn't help having flat feet either- something that doesn't seem to matter at all floating away up there! Sorry to hear about your childhood fall but admire your spirit of adventure!

  38. I can always count on a wonderful visit over here to entice my imagination to soar:)

  39. Don't we all possess this gift already? Here I am at 7:36p.m nine hours away from you; yet, we are communicating immediately, and visually. What a gift we have!

  40. I can almost see myself there on that wall with you! You write so beautifully! The quote at the end... perfect timing for me!! I have be in the "what if" mode for a few months now!!!

    Happy Sunday!!

  41. I suppose many days I am invisible, and I travel through time in my subconscious, so I suppose all my super hero abilities have been realized. Love the post, love the painting.
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