Finding a Way to Soar This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 20, 2014
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Ever since I was a little kid, flight has always mesmerized me. It started with my obsession with butterflies when I was in early elementary school. I was fascinated by these elaborate yet delicate creatures that so beautifully and effortlessly bent the air to their will. My love of flying beings quickly transferred to birds as well, and I would repeatedly lie out in the dew-tipped grass and watch the aerobics of the birds, as they seemed to pirouette around the treetops. I wondered why these small creatures, which were always said to be insignificant and dim-witted in comparison to humans, had the ability to soar and we did not.

Flight became my ultimate dream. While other kids dreamed of becoming a ballerina or fireman, I wished I could just transform into some creature with the ability to fly. It didn't matter what. So every time my friends and I scampered across the playground, pretending to be animals, I would flap around as a bird, imagining that the air whooshing by my arms was pure freedom. And when we played Superheroes, I always chose to have the superpower of flight.
My first time in a plane was like a dream come true. Unlike many people, I found flying not only tolerable but very enjoyable. In fact, traveling is still one of the most pleasurable parts of a vacation for me. I loved the sensation of flying in an airplane, but it also made me sad, as a kid, because I wanted to feel the rush of wind on my skin as I soared, and it reminded me of the fact that I would never truly fly. Although plane rides were both soothing and thrilling for me, I didn't want to just be confined in a metal box in the air. I wanted my own wings. So, in order to feel a rush somewhat equivalent to these dreams, I started climbing trees, and when I reached the highest branches that could support my weight, I would nestle amongst the leaves and air, letting the rhythmic sway of the wind take away my worries and replace them with peace, until I eventually had to return to the ground, and reality.
Flight has held many meanings for me throughout my life. At first, it was only a childlike fascination with something I did not understand and could never achieve, but I soon came to realize that soaring was not only a physical action, and that people had the ability to fly without becoming pilots. Soaring took on a whole new definition as I entered middle school. I felt as if I was a caged bird that could not sing, and in able for my song to be heard and for me to be happy, I had to soar away from the struggles.
I had it all wrong. All I did was fly away, trying to bypass my issues, but I never soared because I didn't understand that there was a difference between flying away and soaring. Now I can see that flying away is only fleeing, whereas, in my definition, soaring means flying high—either physically or metaphorically. However, even once I realized that in order to transcend my problems I would have to soar through them and beyond instead of away from them; I still wasn't able to soar by my own definition. I did no justice to my dreams, my goals, or my favorite word.
Even though my wings are still clipped, I would like to believe that I have the ability to soar; to find happiness, and achieve great things, and that this ability just hasn't awakened in me yet. But until I reach that day, where I am able to spread my wings in life and soar, I will continue to watch the birds and hold on to my transformed dream because their flight has always been a symbol of hope for me, like it has for Emily Dickinson. Her renowned poem “Hope is the thing with feathers”, which likens hope to a bird, is one reason why I associate soaring with obtaining hope. However, the way I see it, hope is not actually the bird, but is instead the wind under the bird’s wings which gives it the ability to soar.
I have been lifted off the ground temporarily by this hope, then plummeted back to reality, so many times that sometimes I feel like I am being mocked, and this can make me question if I will ever be able to soar; however, when I start to feel my worries dragging me further down from the promising cerulean of the sky, I remind myself that no creature is born flying. Baby birds linger in their nests until they are ready to brave the skies, and butterflies were once insignificant, grounded bugs that had to undergo a transformation to become beautiful and to obtain their gift of flight.

In this way, I rationalize that I just haven’t undergone my complete transformation yet; the metamorphosis that will grant me wings in my soul and lift me above these trials like a butterfly bursting free from its confining cocoon, or that brave little bird trusting the air to bear it to a more expansive world.

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