Tuesday 25 Oct 2016

Learning to Fly
M Adam Roberts

I once heard, that there comes a day, when a mother bird decides that it is time for her baby chicks to leave the nest, and do what they were born to do, fly!

Up until this day, she has done everything, necessary, to build their strength, and prepare them to be able to fly off, and survive on their own.

Upon seeing that her babies have reached a certain degree of maturity, and upon knowing that they have become strong enough to fly on their own, without warning, she gives them a final kiss, and then lifts them high into the air, and lets them go.

As the young students plummet towards the ground, heading for what they believe is certain doom, they cry out, "Help! We're going to die!"

The mother bird hears their cry, and with jet speed, soars down to her falling children and hovers right above them. She yells out to them, "Look at me! You are not going to die! You are birds! You were born to fly!!! Now raise your heads, and lift your chest into the air. Spread your wings and catch the wind. Set your sights upon the heavens, and fly above the mountaintops! Soar above the clouds! Do not be afraid! Trust in your wings, and in your creator, who made them."

In an idea world, this is how things are supposed to be. We are born, as babies, unto our parents. Our parents are given to us to nurture, teach, and prepare us for adulthood.

As in the scenario of the mother bird and her offspring, we, as human parents, are supposed to teach our children to fly. They look up to us to do that. They trust us, completely. They're depending on us to do that. Their futures depend on it.

Unfortunately, life is not always idea. In fact, it rarely is.

Often times, children are born into homes where the parents have not yet learned how to fly themselves. They've been stuck on the ground, in frustration, for years. They want to teach their kids how to fly, but they don't know how.

To make matters worse, a truck load of other problems are attacking the unprepared parents, at the same time. It's more than they can handle. They're falling apart, physically, mentally, and spiritually. They're very unhappy. They don't know what to do. They don't know how to break the cycle. They know their children are suffering, but they can't help it. This makes them even more miserable, to the point where all they want to do is run away, and hide, from the whole situation.

Eventually, the bottom falls out of the whole situation, and the parents separate. Guilt sets in, and all ability to communicate breaks down. Blame starts getting thrown from one parent, to the other. There's war between the families. Everything keeps getting worse, and worse, and in the meantime, the children keep growing, closer and closer toward adulthood.

Now, I'm not suggesting that all people, and all families, go through this. But, as we are all aware, many individuals, and families, do go through things like this, and worse.

I will also add, at this point, that there are also hundreds o other reasons why things go wrong, and don't turn out as we would hope. The examples I have given, above, are only one scenario, as I'm sure you understand.

So, what is the fate of those who missed out on their flying lessons? Are they forever doomed to stay grounded and never experience the joy of soaring over a mountaintop? Are their lives pretty much hopeless, destined for mediocrity, at best?

Can one really fly, with broken or undeveloped wings?

I know, for a fact, that one can. I've seen it happen, with my own eyes.

A fifteen year old boy. His mother and father have just gone through a divorce. His father moves away to a far away state, to try to start a new life for himself. His mother meets a new man, and decides she wants to move herself, the teenage boy, and his younger sister, away to another state, to live near the new guys mother.

The boy doesn't want to go. He doesn't want to leave his school, and his friends. Mostly, he doesn't want to leave his eighteen year old sister behind. He felt responsible to look after her, even though she was older than him.

The mother insists on going. The boy refuses to go with her, but wishes her well, anyway.

Now that both his parents were gone, the young man needed a place to live. It wasn't going to be easy for him to find a place, because he was still a minor. Who would be willing to rent to him? Temporarily, he asked a friends mother if he could stay at her place for a short period, while he looked for a place of his own. She allowed him to stay, while he figured out what he was going to do.

He continued attending school, at the local vocational center, where he studied Culinary Arts, during the day, while working at Wendy's Restaurant, during the nights, and weekends.

Culinary Arts was not really the program he wanted to study. It was always his dream to become a police officer, and he tried his best to get into the Law Enforcement Program, but it was not possible for him, at that time. The program had already been filled, so he had to make a second choice. He decided he would study to become a chef, but he never gave up on his dream of becoming a police officer.

A couple of months later, the boy found a property owner that was willing to rent an apartment to him. The young man took all his savings, and rented his very first, one bedroom apartment. He continued going to school, and he never quit his job, at Wendy's. He stayed there for 3 years, until he graduated from high school, with honors.

After high school, he continued to advance in his skills, as a chef. He worked his way up the culinary ladder, from being a fry cook, at Wendy's, to becoming a chef at some of the finest dining establishments, in his area.

His income began to grow. He bought his first house, and a new truck. He never missed a payment, or paid his bills late. He guarded his credit, closely and kept the highest credit score possible.

He had dreams, and he was determined to see them come true.

An opportunity opened up for a chef position, at the local hospital, where he lived. Better pay, lots of overtime, and excellent benefits. He excepted the position, and excelled there, as well, as he did in all of his other positions.

He sold his first house, to an architectural firm, who wanted to make an office out of it, and negotiated a very substantial profit for himself, after only owning it for two years. With his savings, and the profits from the house he sold, he bought himself a much nicer house, in a much nicer area, and filled it with quality furniture.

The young man was at the point in his life where he needed a life companion. With all due patience, he was blessed to finally meet a beautiful, Christian lady of very high character. He fell in love with her, and asked her to marry him. She accepted, and made his life complete.

Shortly after, their first baby daughter was born. A truly beautiful child, sent from above. He and his wife love her, dearly, and devote their lives to caring for her, wholeheartedly. She is obviously, their little pride and joy.

In a little over a month, they will celebrate the birth of her little baby sister, who is on the way. They couldn't be a happier family. They are thankful for all they have been blessed with, and it shows. But there is still one thing the young man feels he must do. He must fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer.

Recently, he applied, and was accepted, into Police Academy. They enrolled him in what they call the, Meat Grinders course. A very intense, accelerated course, that few students survive. He still had to work to pay his bills. It was going to be tough, but he had no choice but to attend academy, full time, and then go to work, at the hospital, after an intense day of schooling. It was an exhausting schedule, for both himself, and his wife, but they saw each other through it.

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to attend his graduation. I really wasn't able to attend, but I was determined to be there. If there ever was a person that deserved recognition for his achievement, it was this young man. I promised him I would be here, and I was.

As I sat in the audience, and watched my son, Grant Roberts, receive his graduation diploma, from Police Academy, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride that I can't even begin to explain. I watched him stand strong, and proud, as he excepted his certificate, from the superior commanders.

At that moment, I could see his dream coming true, and I could no longer hold the tears back from my eyes. It was a moment of priceless accomplishment. I'm so glad I was able to be there to see it. It was one of the most inspiring things I've ever witnessed.. A young boy, with all the cards stacked against him, grown into a man, making his dreams come true.

No one was there to teach my son to fly. He had to teach himself. He knew he had a choice to make, either fly over the mountaintops, or fall, to a life of resentment, poverty, and despair.

He chose to fly!

The thing about my son that I find most admirable, of all, is his unwillingness to hold a grudge against anyone, or anything. He doesn't blame his parents for their mistakes. He dearly loves, and supports both, his mother, and myself.. He doesn't blame life for his misfortunes, either. He just excepts them as part of the challenge of living, and uses them to his advantage.

It's amazing to me that the baby I raised into a little boy, has grown to become my teacher. Now, as I look for inspiration towards achieving my own life goals, I find myself looking towards my son, and his example, of, "How to fly."

What greater honor could a father be given than that?

M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.

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