Once upon a time I thought I was invincible. Notonly that, but I believed I had the potential to fly. No kidding, I actuallythought that if I flapped my arms hard enough they would eventually get me offthe ground.
Several attempts later, I felt disillusioned. Then I heardthat it is easier for birds to fly if they take off not from flat ground, butfrom a height that is somewhat, well, high. I happened to stumble upon thisuseful piece of information around the same time my dad finished constructing myvery own playhouse. And not just any playhouse, but one whose top reached nearlyas high as our chicken shed. Incidentally, that chicken shed was convenientlylocated a mere three feet from my playhouse. Naturally, I decided that to flysuccessfully I should act like a bird and think high. The higher the better, infact.
After careful observation I came to the conclusion that it would bepossible for me to climb onto the roof of my playhouse, take a mini-leap and landon top of the chicken shed, where I could then carry out my plan to fly. Uponreaching the top of my playhouse, however, I realized that perhaps I had beenwrong about this "easy" solution. The "mere three feet"between me and the roof of the chicken shed suddenly seemed more like 300 feet.
I tentatively stretched out one foot, but could barely graze the gutterwith my toes. Turns out there are disadvantages to being 3' 7". Suddenly, myproblem didn't seem like such a dilemma after all. Humans were land-bound for areason, right? Peter Pan could keep his happy thoughts and I'd keep my bonesintact, thank you very much. I abandoned all thoughts of flying. I ignored myplayhouse and chicken shed when I walked by; even butterflies, birds andairplanes were too depressing to glance at.
Then it happened: Idreamt I could fly. Surely this was a sign. I returned to my flying attempts withrenewed determination. This time I would fly, regardless, though I would fly fromthe top of the playhouse instead. The chicken shed was simplyunattainable.
I clearly remember the first jump. It was evening, slightlycool and breezy. The sun was setting behind me and I could see my shadow on theground as I took a deep breath and a big leap and flapped my arms as hard as Icould.
What happened next can only be described as the second mostscarring experience of my life, proceeded only by my first shot. Not only did Inot fly, but I landed quite hard in a very unglamorous position, arms and legsspread in every direction. I lay sprawled on the ground, stunned. Fortunately,nothing was broken so I wasn't forced to tell my parents about my misadventure. Iscraped my bruised body and bleeding pride off the ground and dragged myselfstraight to the couch. That first jump turned out to be my last.
Today Iam 18 years old, healthy and (mostly) unscarred from my childhood. Graduation isright around the corner. I have big plans for the future, plans that I sometimesworry will fall through. Years ago I thought I would never be able to fly. Mylifetime dream was just out of reach, so close I tried to reach out and grab it -even if that meant jumping off a roof. I failed to live out that dream, butlearned a few lessons about gravity and invincibility (or lack thereof) in theprocess. Most important, I learned that it really is important to look before youleap.
I've changed a lot since that day 12 years ago, but not as much asI'd like to think. I still have a tendency to jump into situations withoutthinking about the consequences - and I'm still learning from those consequences.Sometimes I see my playhouse, standing tall and lonely in our yard, and all thosememories come rushing back. I feel a little sad and nostalgic, but also hopeful.There's so much ahead of me, so much I am prepared to take that leap of faithfor. My future is before me, and I can only hope that I will succeed in livingout my dreams. Who knows, maybe someday I will fly.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.