Friday, March 19, 2010

Have You, Could You, Would You Fly?

Not very long ago, flying was not really an option for humans, unless you fell off a cliff, or found yourself in the talons of a pterodactyl, who on a whim decided at fifteen thousand feet to become a vegetarian.

In the 1920's, my dad (above) used to build his own airplanes out of Harley Davidson motorcycle engines, and chewing gum. He hand carved the propellers using a spoke shave. He flew whithersoever he wished.

And sometimes he flew right into the ground.

This is a painting my son, Jesse did a while ago depicting himself flying. He wrote:

"It was like pushing off from the bottom of a swimming pool rather than flying. I hadn't actually flown before, but every kid has his own idea of just what it would be like. I didn't have to jump. Only gliding through the air. Nothing could be heard except the boats in the water and the sun shining on the lawns.

Stillness like nobody could describe. Realness like a truck with wood in the back or a paper cut from a love letter. The good kind of real. Free and real like the kind God allows only for a twinkle on this side of eternity."

This angel was drawn by daughter, Faith. Flying is a lighthearted leap! A sigh going the other way. Do you remember any dreams of flying? I used to have them as a child, and never wanted them to end. If I found myself waking, I would try so hard to crawl back into my dream.

My granddaughter drew this picture or herself flying. See her wings? In Madeleine L'Engle's book Walking on Water, she ponders a memory of flying as a child. She is certain that she truly did fly. I think I did too, but would never mention it to anyone. Oh, look I've gone and mentioned it.

When we are motivated by love, when we live in joy, when we follow our dreams and our deeper instincts, do we not also find ourselves flying?

When astronaut, Alan Shepard was silently hurtling through space, he looked back at the Earth, and he wept.


A mermaid in the attic said...

Back years ago, I had a run of really amazing flying dreams...the feeling was indescribably wonderful, I wish I could dream like that now. In 2007, when I first thought maybe I could try doing this 'art thing' a little more seriously, my first big painting, and the first painting I ever sold, was called "I must not forget how to fly". It was my own 'note to self' to remember my dreams and not give them up.

Kat_RN said...

Very nice! I worked on airplanes for several years and I flew on them alot. I still dream of flying under my own power, a magical ability rather than a mechanical thing.

Faith Pray said...

What a beautiful post!
It must be an instinctual longing in us - that thirst to fly, that faint memory of when we actually did, and the recurring dreams about it.
Thank you for reminding us!

storyqueen said...

I, too have magical, flying dreams that are so real, they must be memories and not just made up stuff. There are a pair of red tail hawks in my neighborhood and I look up at them as they pass over my car as I drive to work....and I am overcome with envy.


Protege said...

Your posts are always a breath of fresh air to me. I am not sure what to comment on first, the fact that your whole family is a set of talented artists or the fact that your father built planes.;))
It takes a dreamer with a vivid imagination to envision a flight.;)
Have a lovely first spring weekend,

steven said...

richard such a rich and beautiful post! i have dreamt of flying but not for some time. i used to imagine myself able to fly when i had a girlfriend who lived far away. i would imagine the entire route and spend lots of time looking down at the scenery as i passed over it on my way to her home. i can't believe that i did that but i am glad that i did. your father - wow! what a revelation to the world he must have been! steven

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Mermaid, that is so cool about your first big painting.I can relate to you describing that kind of flying as "indescribably wonderful". That really is how it feels. Yes, we must never forget.

No way, Kat. I'd love to hear more about your airplane adventures.

Faithy, I think you're right it must be instinctual. Or a tintinabulation in your memory of the yippeeness! of it all.

Nice, Shelley. Isn't it stunning that these dreams are so real? And they feel so right and good. It doesn't make sense that they are anything other than some kind of prehensile reality.

Zuzana, your kind comments are always appreciated. Here's to envisioning flight! Huzzah! And ahhh! for Spring.

Steven, that makes me smile to think of you willing yourself to fly over the route to your friend's house. Thanks, and enjoy the awakening of Spring.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Alice is determined that she will fly. She practices flapping her arms; she reads about fairies; she runs into the garden to question birds that land there.

She thinks it's most unfair that she hasn't yet lifted off. I keep telling her to give it time...

stargazer said...

Lovely post - thank you.

For me one of the most beautiful sights is seeing the earth from up high, from the air. Seeing the patterns, shapes, colours of the earth and our influence on it - rivers snaking, mountain ridges, rice fields. There's just something about being in the air that makes you feel part of something bigger...

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Oh, Martha, Alice is so close. If anyone can fly she can. It's a bit like seeing those 3D pictures. You have to relax your eyes and stop trying. It's also the same as catching your muse, you have to act like you could care less.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Stargazer,I also love to see the earth from the air. I the fields, and hills and wrinkles of the land look like the grandest of quilts. The variation seems infinite, the detail exquisite in every way. I am constantly amazed by the filigree of detail whether micro or macro. There is a signature style at work here.

Seeing the world from above puts a lot in perspective for sure.

tlc illustration said...

That photo of your father is fabulous. I can see where you got your sense of adventure and fearlessness!

I've always been rather amazed at how universal the desire to fly and dreams of flying seem to be. Have you ever met anyone who hasn't dreamt they were flying? The last flying dream I remember was after reading one of the Harry Potter books - I had a flying Quiddich sort of broom and was zooming through the back allies of Old Redmond (behind the British Pantry in fact. Interesting connections ones' subconscious makes?)

Here's to flight - of all kinds.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Hey Tara. Your dream of flying a broomstick behind the British Pantry in Old Redmond cracked me up. You are so right that our subconscious mixes and matches the oddest things. Our deep planted longing to fly must be on of the ways we can rise above all of the subconscious jumble to put it all in perspective.

Perhaps our subconscious just wants to have fu-un.

ruthie said...

Great post. i have on a few occassions dreamt i am standing at the top of a flight of stairs & i fly up and over the heads of other folk and down to the bottom step - glorified queue jumping (not something i would EVER normally do)!! but i always feel such a sense of elation as i take off, its great.

Imada said...

I used to be obsessed about flying when I was little, too. My dream was ones like me being able to fly to school, caz I didn't like to walk there (which we, elementary kids, did every day).
Hey! I remember you making us paint self-portrait of us flying when you came to teach us in AF1 back in 2001. I didn't really like acrylic paint back then, so I don't know if I saved it. but I think I could make a lot better picture of myself flying now:)

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Ruthie, queue jumping would be handy. I like the image of gliding down stairs without having to step-step down them. Elation is the perfect word.

Miho, I remember those self-portraits as well. They were fabulous. And what do you know, you have flown to school, all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

Julia Kelly said...

I would love to be able to fly- you have to drug me to get me in a plane- I am closterphobic-
How was your mother when your father was off flying!?

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Julia, I get the nervousness about flying. Whenever I climb aboard a plane, I tell my self that statistically, it really is a lot safer than driving. A lot more people bite dust while driving than flying. So. My mom didn't mind my dad's flying, it was his crashing that she hated. He had thirteen crash-landings. Finally she told him it's those planes or me. He chose wisely...I think.

Lida Enche said...

At first - the dreams were miraculous events of frantically flapping my arms until slowly levitating and finally soaring away, narrowly escaping dangerous situations. Then - there was the dream to end it all - I was walking beside the last row of a massive corn field on a hot, sunny day. Unlike the other dreams, I knew I could fly. I started walking, then jogging and finally running full speed, all the time levitating myself up the side of the corn plants and finally sprinting on the very tip-top leaves on the outer row. The wind was blowing. I could see corn forever. I was flying. Then, - "YOUNG LADY! GET DOWN FROM THERE!". It was a Boss Hogg type police officer (or was it actually Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazard?) yelling at me while leaning on his patrol car, in the shade of a tree, giving me a "these teenagers..." look. I got down. Dream over. Psychotherapy, anyone? :) Peace and levitation.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Lida, I like your flying dream. Fabulous. Sorry about the downer voice. Hope you receive more flying dreams without the critic.

Lida Enche said...

I didn't think of it as a downer, but instead woke up chuckling because of the absurdity of that character.. He served as my lesson in the ridiculousness of intimidation and power of surprise. I love that your blog spurs us all on to THINK. Thanks Richard!