HLRGazette Archives

Relive some of our best stories.

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Inspiring Peak Performance

E-mail Print PDF
Afraid to Fly?
By Steve McNeely
My wife, Mary, breeds exotic birds. It started about ten years ago when I brought home a rather irritable gray cockatiel she named Rosy for its cheeks. If I had known that gift would have grown into a full-blown aviary full of a variety of peeping, chirping, squawking, and screaming two-legged winged animals I might have brought something else home from the pet store-like an adult python. Actually, I am proud that Mary invested the time to become an expert before embarking us on this adventure.
It is fascinating to watch Mary hand-feed baby birds that start out looking like big-eyed raptors with tiny quills sticking out of their pink skin. Almost overnight the quills burst into a full feathered covering of intense, vivid colors as varied as the species; from the deep sea green of the Quakers to the pastel blues, pinks, oranges, and reds of the Lovebirds-all painted from the DNA-palette of a very creative Artist.
In spite of the variety, Mary's birds all have one thing in common. They fly. It is quite amusing to see a baby bird fly for the first time. For weeks they grow in size and strength. When released they run around the room exploring. Then, suddenly, the most mature baby flaps its wings and is airborne. It's like, "Whoa, what's happening here?" The short flight is usually terminated by a wall or a door followed by a rather ungraceful seven-point landing. The birdie picks itself up and, like a like a kid who just jumped off the roof in Superman pajamas, caromed off two tree limbs, bounced off the asphalt driveway and is splayed face-down in the petunia bed, says, "Lets do that again." Eventually, all the birds fly.
Have you ever dreamed you were flying? My dreams are usually unremembered in the morning. But I distinctly remember two dreams when I flew. The feeling was exhilarating. In both cases I was falling and just before I hit the ground I pulled out of the screaming dive like a fighter jet and began to soar. Up and down, side to side. Feelings of power, energy and unbridled freedom coursed through me, pounding like a heart under load. It must be a complete rush to be a top-gun pilot. But, I know from experience, it's even better to fly on your own.
Have you ever dreamed you were flying? Have you ever flown? Are you flying now? A 2005 study shows that most of us are grounded: "Americans are growing increasingly unhappy with their jobs, The Conference Board reports today. The decline in job satisfaction is widespread among workers of all ages and across all income brackets.
Half of all Americans today say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from nearly 60 percent in 1995. But among the 50 percent who say they are content, only 14 percent say they are ‘very satisfied.'"
We probably know this to be true, either from personal experience, or the experiences of friends and family. Most people find themselves in their current occupation more from a series of unforeseen circumstances than as a result of thoughtful planning and persistent striving. We start out with big dreams and aspirations. Then too many of us settle into a routine, work for the weekend and hope for retirement when we can really enjoy life.
Diligent hard work to support a family is to be honored. That can be a fulfilled dream. However, getting stuck because of giving up may mean you are afraid to fly. Constant feelings of discouragement, frustration, depression, self-pity and a general malaise may be symptoms of clipping your own wings. Millions of people self-medicate each evening with the T.V. remote in one hand and a drink in the other. At a time when billions of people truly are stuck because of dysfunctional societies or shackling poverty isn't it a shame if any of us in the richest, freest nation in history choose not to fly.
Fear of flying can come in many forms: we can be afraid of change, afraid of the unknown, afraid to try something new, afraid we might not be good at it, afraid we might fail, afraid of what others might think of us. Maybe we did boldly flap our wings but crashed, got hurt, and are now afraid to try again.
Birds are meant to fly. Mary has, regrettably, had a few birds get out of their cages over the years when they are outside. In most cases even the tamest pets do not come back. They fly away. People are meant to soar, dip, float, bank, dive, spread their wings and fly. Do not clip your wings because you are afraid to fly. Keep striving to reach your unique potential!
(A re-run from Dec. 2007)