Thursday, July 14, 2005

Learning how to fly

I've recently been reading an amazing series by Douglas Adams called Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series. I flew by the first two books....they are very short and easy reads. Admas is a brilliant writer...and his books really have a lot to offer up for reflection. Makes one look at things really differently. Funny enough, his books have a lot of wisdom to offer to the traveler. I've been finding much inspiration from these books.

I shared a passage (a rather long one) with Jackie recently. I wasn't going to post it up...but I think it might be fun to share. It is an excerpt from the actual guide (or at least the actual guide from the book) and it is in the third book of the series, Life, the Universe, and Everything. It goes like this:

"The Hitchhikers Guide has this to say on the subject of flying.
There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, and try it. The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt. That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard. Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties. One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it. It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people failure , and eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport. If however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner. This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration. Bob and float, float and bob. Ignore all considerations of your own weight and simply let yourself waft higher. Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful. They are most likely to say something along the lines of "Good God, you can't possibly be flying!" It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right. Waft higher and higher. Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly. Do not wave at anybody. When you have done this a few times you will find the moment of distraction rapidly becomes easier and easier to achieve. You will then learn all sorts of things about how to control your flight, your speed, your maneuverability, and the trick usually lies in not thinking too hard about whatever you want to do, but just allowing it to happen as if it were going to anyway. You will also learn how to land properly, which is something you will almost certainly screw up, and screw up badly, on your first attempt."

After reading this I've decided (and I believe Jackie has agreed to join me on this one) to try and go for it...I'm going to learn the knack to flying...or at least try. Now guide also mentions that it is a recreational impossibility to learn the knack of flying...yet given my current circumstance, in which many impossibilities (or improbability?) have recently occurred, I figure why not? Lets hope things go well.