We had a tree in the back yard that I used to climb. Don’t get too excited, it wasn’t very big by adult standards. I don’t even remember what kind it was or what color the leaves changed to in the fall. A sturdy, low, side angled branch, its most distinguishing feature, made it easy to climb. On more than a few occasions I climbed that tree with a sheet, or blanket or cape of some kind, determined to use its height as my launch pad, my runway, my base for a flying leap.
My childish imagination and child-like faith saw me soaring on the sails I held tightly waded in my fist. If the wind were blowing hard enough, I reasoned, I’d be able to stay aloft at least sixty seconds. I’ll admit there were doubts floating about my head, which I tried to extinguish, but hope won out over fear as I made my way to the outer limbs.
I would look out at the back yard, cautiously eye the power line looping low from a pole to the house. Then, I would envision myself lifting into the air. Closing my eyes I’d leap out into a gust of wind. I was always surprised that there wasn’t even the least little sensation of lift, hesitation or sense of flight. The ground came up to meet me quickly and decisively.
My feet usually had that burning sensation from landing so hard, a sort of instant but fleeting numbness kept me on the grass. Analyzing the situation I almost always concluded that I just didn’t believe enough. Gravity, lift, or physics never entered my equation. I was sure that my doubts pulled me down and kept me grounded.
If the wind stayed gusty I would often try several more times. Climbing with my sheet or towel, thinking birdlike thoughts, willing it to be possible, I repeatedly leapt out into the invisible air certain THIS time would be it.
Hope versus reason. Naysayers abound. Negativity runs rampant. One seldom hears of miracles. And yet…
And yet, we all still climb. We climb out of bed and face a difficult day. We climb into our cars and work at a soul-numbing job to support a family. We climb over the obstacles that life throws at us and we keep moving. We climb a mountain of despair after a loss and hope for less pain and brighter days. We climb through the paperwork and jump through the hoops to get the support and help a loved one needs. We climb and we climb and we climb.
And every day we make that leap of faith and hope.
I am still a flightless child. But inside, part of me still thinks the seemingly impossible could be possible if I just keep trying.