I’ve had a lifelong fear of balloons, heights, and fire. Because of that, I’ve decided to embark on my first hot air balloon ride. It’s not the first time I’ve made the attempt. A decade ago a group of friends scheduled a hot air balloon adventure that was canceled because of bad weather. When we heard the news, everyone was disappointed. Everyone but me. In the privacy of my heart I threw a tiny balloon-less party. But this time I’m gonna make it happen no matter what. Why? you might ask. Why would you choose to soar through the sky in a little basket beneath a balloon filled with flames? Because, as I said before, it terrifies me.
I know that a sudden gust of wind could toss me into a redwood tree. I understand I could splash into the sea like an astronaut, but without the survival factor or the roar of the nation’s applause. I know it doesn’t matter how much I trust the person behind the wheel, because there is no wheel. The balloon has a mind of its own, and the day of my ride, the balloon could very well be thinking, What a great day for a crash! If the balloon heads for a church steeple, god in all of her glory is gonna be the only one who can hit the brakes. And we all know how god feels about death. God thinks death is a good time, a red carpet to eternal bliss. That’s not assuring. But it’s the lack of assurance that’s wooing me.
Trusting the universe is my new thing. Nothing in my life is currently supporting my mental health more. Don’t get me wrong– I’m %1000 in support of mental health meds. They have helped me through many hard years. But right now, trust is at the root of my joy, and the birth of my adventurous spirit. Life has never stopped proposing, and I’m done saying no. I want to say yes so often I use up all the space on my ring finger, and have to cover my middle finger in yeses too.
Nothing has ever built my faith in myself more than conquering a fear. And by conquering I don’t mean making the fear go away. I mean being afraid, staying afraid, and doing it anyway. It brings me to life. It’s like vitamins for the spirit. I’ve been performing poetry for twenty years and still have more stage fright than anyone I know. Some have suggested that’s a terrible plight, but I credit much of my life’s joy to the fact that I spend so much time doing something that has never stopped scaring the crap out of me. To explain the severity– I knew to graduate college with an English degree I would have to read three poems out loud to my class my senior year. Though I loved writing, I spent four years considering changing my major because of that requirement. Can a hot air balloon really be more frightening? Maybe. But if it is, imagine how happy I will be after I do it!
I’ll send photos from the sky, y’all. And if you’ve ever been in a hot air balloon I would love it if you’d share some photos with me and tell me about your experience in the comments. Or, if you have a fear you are personally leaning into these days, I would be thrilled to hear about that too.
Love & Altitude,
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