My Friends Can Fly
I have a classical, if not romantic, love for the idea of flying. The thought of soaring through the air, in a place where physical boundaries cannot make claim of my body is a reoccurring daydream. I spend a lot of time wishing I could take off, like a superhuman. There are daily moments where this anxious heart of mine longs for escape…
But I am afraid of heights.
Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid of a lot of things. While being a strong thinker and a deep feeler have their benefits on any given day, they sometimes partner in self-sabotage. If life was about climbing literal ladders to success, I would be laying on the ground looking up.
I would live in the dream.
But I have found the secret to being brave, the secret to climbing the ladder.
Life felt like it was on pause before college. When I finally got to a place where I could go, I made the internal decision to get through it unscathed. I wanted to be untouchable, successful and detached. It was too long of a time not to find myself opening up to new friendships. That was a very different climb.
I don’t think I fear loneliness as much as I fear being left to my own vices. A place without family, friends and love. Sometimes I cling to the bottom rung, believing that numbness, is the answer. Maybe I can medicate the darkness, avoid risks even if it means shutting out the possibility of joy. But even if numbness is safe, it doesn’t look alive.
But it’s familiar.
Or, at least it was.
Something changed for me, being in college. I found community that made persistent efforts to love me, whether I was seeking it or not.
The only thing about love is…it’s a climb. There’s no guarantee of what you’ll see when you reach the top, but you don’t stop climbing, and every step is much more vulnerable than the next. Every step challenges any natural instinct to live under numbness, in submission to a life of looking up and daydreaming.
But I made it, I reached the top and I found that there is something better up there, even if it was hard to see at first.
I found that I was surrounded, by people who journeyed with me, people who took the time to know me, people who would not allow me to slip off the ladder. People who can help me fly.
Flight for me happens when I am conscious, aware, and dare I say euphoric. It doesn’t happen often, and it may not even be scary. It’s the very thing I think happens when we love and live in moments and unleash joy…it’s that echo in the back of our minds cautioning us not to enjoy anything too much.*
It’s the fear that people will leave, and when they leave they will take their laughter with them and leave you with silence.
It’s the fear that there must be something bad on its way and you must prepare for it — don’t get caught up in the moment.
It’s the fear that you’ll never have another moment this good, a fear that taints everything with sadness.
It’s the fear of the end, or an ending, one that doesn’t come with a promise of “later.”
It’s the fear that lives in there—there being my anxious mind. But it’s love that keeps me here.
Here, I’ve found friends who have helped me touch something infinite.
Here, is the secret of friendship, which is dark and light, celebration and sadness, hope and despair.
Beauty. And Ugliness.
At the top of the ladder, I experienced a goodbye. I realized that no amount of gifts can change the fact that my friends graduated, taking their laughter with them. But they weren’t leaving me in silence, my heart is far too full for there to be any space for despair to echo.
I was afraid to start this journey three years ago and sometimes I’m afraid now that it’s almost over. But there will be other ladders to climb, other heights to reach and more friends with different laughs to mimic.
One day, I’ll overcome my fears. Maybe I’ll get to know what it’s like to literally fly.
Or maybe I’ll always be afraid. There will be all kinds of ladders I can look down in disbelief since it’ll probably never get any easier.
But I can say that it all started here — in a place where I found friends I love more than I am afraid of heights.
Originally published on Medium.com on May 20, 2017.