April 27, 2007


I am one of the most confident women I know, and I'm not sure why.

Surely some of my "can do" spirit comes from the care my parents took with me when I was young; my childhood is full of stories about their encouragement of my trying things I maybe technically shouldn't have been able to do yet. Putting real records on a real record player before I could even read. Riding my bike home alone even though it meant travelling on old Route 17 for a mile or so. My parents seemed to radiate a sense of "well, of course you can do that," and in many instances I took that as my cue to live up to their expectations. As I grew I guess I internalized their confidence and made it my own.

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When I was growing up, my family spent as much of our free time sailing as we possibly could. One time my father was sailing by himself, bringing the boat across Lake Ontario so that we could join him for "the fun part" of the vacation, cruising in the Thousand Islands. As it happened, my father ran into a big storm, and was hard-pressed to keep the boat on course. As the clouds finally cleared and the waves began to subside a bit, he saw a tiny bird which had obviously been blown far off its usual flight path making its way to the forward deck of our boat. There the bird lay in a tousled heap, so still for so long that my father thought it might be dead. But eventally, after some long anxious minutes, the bird began to show signs of life. It gradually progressed to the point of being able to hop around the foredeck and forage for food, happily pecking at the bug bits it found. Finally the bird got up the energy and courage to test its wings again. It flew away... and came back. Then it flew a little further... and came back. At last the far shore of Lake Ontario came into sight, and the bird threw itself into the now-blue sky and headed straight for the smudged line of trees on the horizon.

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In my work life, I am a college counselor, which means -- among other things -- that I stand at the doorway of adulthood and watch as my students try to navigate their way forward.

Sometimes I get to cheer. Sometimes I hand out Kleenex. And sometimes I just shake my head in wonder.

We are a K-12 school, so we are witnesses to some incredible transformations. Students who seem completely unmoored one year discover the things that matter most to them and take flight.

It is impossible to predict the point at which young people will "come into their own," but when they do, it is a beautiful thing.

So here's what I think flight requires: faith in yourself, belief that the seemingly impossible can sometimes be achieved, some sense of where you are, and a place to land.

Wings alone won't do it.

(Thank you to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)


Wendy said...

so very true. i want to save this post for my son to read one day.

cloudscome said...

This is so well thought out and carefully written.

"some sense of where you are, and a place to land" is the part I always forget about.

Yeah, I guess I leap before I look sometimes... LOL It seems to work out by God's grace.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Oh, how true... a place to land... we don't often think about that aspect, do we! We are always in such a rush to get "there"- but where there is can be a mystery! A beautiful post, Shelley! The story about the bird finding rest on your father's boat was fascinating!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I like how the three stories complement each other.

gautami tripathy said...

"faith in yourself, belief that the seemingly impossible can sometimes be achieved, some sense of where you are, and a place to land."

I loved those above lines. I think in similar lines.

Bongga Mom said...

This post connected with me very strongly, and the story about the sailboat was great! My husband likes to sail too :)

Patois said...

What an encouraging post to read! Thank you for sharing it.

Stacy said...

Well I see we came round to a similar point.......must be the time of year!

And why hadn't I heard that sailing story before? It's a great one.

sognatrice said...

Beautiful post, and I agree that the three parts are interwoven perfectly. Brava :)

Anonymous said...

Really beautiful writing!
I too, think the three parts are connected so perfectly.

Maya's Granny said...

So well written, such connection between the three parts, such truth. And, it helps me verbalize a thing I've sometimes used and sometimes not when working with people -- and now I can know that one of the first things to look for is, does this person have a place to land. If not, how do we find one.

Mandy said...

I loved that! That was really nicely written. You're lucky that you had such encouraging parents. It took me a long time to "come unto my own"....and still is in some ways.