by Debra Des Vignes

Larry Walter’s boyhood dream was to fly, so he purchased helium balloons and attached them to his lawn chair.

He armed himself with a BB gun, CB radio, a six-pack of beer and a parachute. He rose 16,000 feet before landing.

Reporters got to him before the police.

“Larry, were you scared?” reporters asked.

“Yes, wonderfully so! Fear is a natural part of moving forward.”

“Was I running from emotional security? Was I scared to get too close to people and have them leave?”

When I was a kid all I wanted to do was fly, like Larry. I planned to take a few things with me – some water and pretzels – and strap on a backpack and disappear up into the milky clouds.

I would dream of finding just the right rooftop to launch my trip: high enough for a good takeoff but low enough to fall gracefully, just in case the balloons wouldn’t lift me.

I would whiz by the moon and the stars and fly faster and higher than the birds. I would be gone without a trace. It would be an adventure that I could use to fill the pages of my journal. I imagined flying and leaving, finding solitude.

“I am better off alone,” I told others.

If I couldn’t fly alone, I wanted to travel alone, be alone and on the go. For most of my life, I created my own rules and didn’t want to follow anyone’s direction.

Was I running from emotional security? Was I scared to get too close to people and have them leave?

“Gradually, stability seemed less risky to me, and I became comfortable.”

I think I had a few issues, but once I addressed my fears of staying put I became more emotionally available and connected with others in a deeper way. Gradually, stability seemed less risky to me, and I became comfortable.

But have I become complacent? Or will that sense of adventure always flicker inside of me?

I believe there are three reasons to love risk-taking, to love flying.

1. You will never know what you are capable of until you go beyond your perceived limits.

2. Inherent in risk is inspiration.

3. If you want to live the life of your dreams, you can’t just sit there.

I can’t just abandon my desire to continue to think big, keep moving and take risks.

Now as a mother, I wonder if our son, Simon, will have the same curiosity as I once had. Will Simon fly? Will thoughts consume his every dream like it once did mine? Will he fall? Then again, falling is part of it.

Debra with her son, Simon

Debra with her son, Simon

Flying, for me, was part of personal growth and self-discovery. Will our son want to soar through the sky? Or will his dreams keep him closer to home?

Larry’s boyhood dream was to fly. His example shows us that flying is not nearly as scary as it looks.

Debra Des Vignes is Vice President of Marketing, Communication and Public Relations at HVAF of Indiana. Read more of her work at her Multi-Media Diary site.

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