Come Fly With Me

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[This post was originally published as part of my BluebirdFebruary creative nonfiction blog.]

It is early morning and I am standing at the edge of a concrete bunker on a mountaintop. I’m cold. In the valley stretching out around me is a thick forest of trees, and grey clouds hug the horizon. There are people below me and behind me making preparations. A voice calls, “Are we ready?” Seconds pass. “Take-off!” And then suddenly I am screaming through the air. There is a moment at first when the terrain below looks unfamiliar and I feel myself descending a bit. Panic. I am falling, falling. I am going to fall. Then I remember how to pull up with my arms, and I have a rush of déjà vu. I’m back. It feels so good to be flying again.

This is my favorite recurring dream. Always in the grey morning, always the trees, always without a plane, just my arms. Sometimes I’m by myself, sometimes someone is with me and I have to show them how to maneuver through the treetops at high speeds. We fly for long periods of time over forests and lakes. This dream has always amused me, because I don’t have a real desire to learn to fly – a plane, for instance – although I do love being a passenger in small aircraft. The smaller the aircraft the better. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have done a lot of flying this way. My favorite flight by far was taking a ski-equipped bush plane from the tiny town of Talkeetna, Alaska, to the Denali base camp on Kahiltna Glacier. A geology student at the time, I was riveted by the sight of ice bridges, moraines, glacial streams, and myriad other formations below and fanning out across the peaks and gorges of the Alaska Range.

In dreams or in a Cessna 182, what I know is this: with flight comes a change in perspective. Details shift and blend, large patterns emerge, colors deepen. It’s a reminder that the world around me in all its glitter and dust exists right now in dimensions I’ve never seen, heights I haven’t scaled. And there is still much to explore.

It’s an invitation, just above the engine roar.

Come fly with me.