Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Boy Who Could Fly

Ever since I can remember, I've always had the ability to fly in my dreams. I don't know what it is, but since early childhood, no matter what form or scenario my dreams take, more often than not I end up flying at some point. If an angry mob is chasing me, I'll run down the block and launch into the air. If I'm in the middle of an awkward moment, I'll leap out the window and sail away. But usually I fly in my dreams just to do it. You know, for fun.

I can't describe how freeing it feels. It's a sensation that I wake up with just wishing I could somehow go back, if only to experience it one moment longer.

Funny thing is, my flight capabilities have been fraught with turbulence over the years, starting off as a struggle in my childhood and developing to a more smooth, controlled ability as I grew older. I've always been fascinated by just what this evolution means in terms of my psyche.

As a kid, flying in my dreams was more as a means of escape. Escape from people chasing me, escape from embarrassing social scenarios (the classic naked at school motif), or a more general escape from the life I had at the time. In these moments, taking to the air was a desperate struggle, not unlike learning how to swim. In fact, swimming was the earliest analogy my dream flights took. In order to gain altitude, I would literally have to wave my arms in a fluid, circular motion similar to a breaststroke. I would stroke and stroke, straining against powerful gravitational forces to rise higher. Often the results were only a meager flight of about a hundred feet and perhaps several yards across. Enough to get me away from danger, but just barely.

Eventually the "swimming" came easier, and I no longer woke up feeling like I had just run a few laps around the track. However, although gravity was no longer my foe, it was perhaps too indulgent a companion in my teenage years. For now I had the opposite problem in my dreams. I encountered no resistance taking to the skies, which presented a dilemma as I would rise and rise with no way to stop my ascent. So picture my dream self, rising ever upwards into the stratosphere--into lower orbit, actually!--feeling the air grow thin and gasping for breath as I tried desperately to halt my ascent. I would try flapping my arms, twisting, even turning upside down in an attempt to fly towards the ground. These dreams usually ended with me waking up, gasping for breath. I often felt like I was drowning. Since I once almost did drown, I knew the feeling all too well.

Eventually, though, as I grew older and especially when I neared high school graduation, my dream flights became more controlled. I could lift into the air at the drop of a hat, rise as high as I wanted to go, and stop on a dime in midair as if applying brakes. I could even alternate my speeds--something I could never do before. Now I could float stationary above the streets, or out-fly jet planes in the sky if I chose to. Usually I would just spend the rest of the dream, no matter how it began, flying through the city or over the countryside.

Once I reached this threshold where the skies were literally no limit for me, I noticed the flight ability started to crop up in more and more of my dreams. What had once been an odd occurrence in my little boy dreams when I was 7 or 8 had developed into an almost nightly event by the time I was in college. And even now as an adult I can say at least 65% of my dreams contain some incident of me flying. And my control is uncanny, approaching lucid levels.

What does this all mean? I wish I knew. I know of others who fly in their dreams, but not at the frequency or ability that I can. Because of this, I've always been fascinated by characters and movies dealing with personal flight. Not airplane or skydiving (i.e., mechanical) flight, but actual intrinsic flight like what birds can do. Superman was the obvious and earliest affinity for me, as were cartoon characters like Mighty Mouse. The TV show My Secret Identity--about a teenage boy who wakes up one day floating 8 feet above his bed and discovers that he has super powers like his favorite comic book heroes--was perhaps the highlight of my junior high school years. I was so JEALOUS of that guy!

Then there was the movie The Boy Who Could Fly, which I hold very dear to my heart even to this day. The closing scene where the boy finally reveals his ability and flies through the suburban neighborhoods resonated with me. Again, I *wished* I could do this in real life and not just in dreams!

So, do you think I'm certifiable?

And no, I don't think I was some kind of aviator in a prior life. :-) As I've said before, it's not mechanical flight that attracts me. Although, I must say I do get such a thrill riding airplanes and imagining that it's just me up there . . . with the wind whipping past me and clouds stretched out *below* me! Needless to say I definitely don't have a fear of airplanes, or of heights for that matter. The higher I can go, the better. One of these days I want to parachute out of a plane so that, even if just for a few seconds of freefall, I can just *imagine* that I'm actually flying.

Wow, what a rush that would be! One of these days . . .

Anyway, is anyone out there good at interpreting dreams? Do you dream of flying, too? Or do your dreams reveal a different hidden super power about you? I would like to know.

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