Parachute

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Time flies…damn…it does.

About six months ago my biggest boy turned eighteen.

{Gulp.}

Six weeks ago he graduated from high school.

It absolutely blows my mind as I try to grasp this. His years of babyhood, toddlerhood, childhood.  and teenagehood, have been running through my brain like a coming of age movie…a movie that I produced and directed.  As the days leading up to his graduation unfolded my man-child had been heavy on my mind and heart….oh to be at his place in life again myself…man oh man, would I want to return to that era myself? Such a exciting yet transitional time of life. 

One of the most cherished gifts ever given to me is a card written long ago from my father.  Handwritten and full of honest emotion, he shared his wisdom and love for me….over the years I too have developed a knack for the written word and so I had a special leather bound notebook….a word holder…crafted especially for my son. Letter by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence I put together a love note for my firstborn. 

******************************************************************************************************************

 

I love you more than words can say…. ….but I will never stop trying to tell you.

 When you were just a tiny little guy your daddy and I would call you “Super Baby”.  It began, like most dorky nicknames do, when you were quite tiny.   We would lift you high above us and make you “fly” in the air, safe in our hands. Your eyes would get even bigger than they already were! {which was HUGE}  You’d open your mouth almost as wide as your eyes as you’d soar in the sky like the super baby we knew you were. I’m sure Dad started it…but we’d sing a goofy song that went something {exactly} like this:

SUPERBABY

SUPERBABY 

SUPERBABY

SUPERBABY……

Eventually we added a chorus of:

“SUPER DUPER POOPER BABY”.  

It was wonderful.   It’s been a while since I thought of this. Yet, it feels like it just happened five or eight minutes ago.   Where did the time go? When did my Super Baby grow up???  

When you were about three Dad took you to a Fresno State football game.  During half time a plane flew over the stadium and a bunch of parachutes sprinkled the night sky. You thought it was fantastic. You came up with your own term for them….. “Hang-A-Man’s”.  Before long you were constantly sporting your own “chute”…a backpack ,as you scaled rocks,furniture….playground equipment. You’d jump off and shout,  “Look, Mom! I’m a hang-a-man!”   I loved those days. You were so quirky and brave and silly.   Funny……….you still are.   Looking back, this thing you had for “hang-a-mans”…parachutes…it makes me think full circle….from the little boy you were, to this amazingly strong, playful, and confident young man you have become, so brave in spirit.  Parachutes….. much to learn from this childhood obsession of yours….

 

*****

One winter’s night, late….while nursing you in our big green rocking chair…you were just a fuzzy little bundle in my arms…I cried at the thought of you growing up. Sobbed. Chokes me up now thinking about it, and how unbelievably fast it has gone by. I want that moment back again just to savor you in my arms and feel your blonde dandy-lion hair tickle my nose as I leaned down to kiss your noggin. I want to feel your weight in my arms.  I want to find a rewind button…then the pause. What’s so amazing now as I write this…

I really don’t need to do that…

cause here it is, eighteen years later, fresh in my mind as it was that chilly night.

I can smell you and feel you wiggling into me….my sweet little man.  Stamped into my memory it is. This makes my heart swell.   Eighteen…graduating…growing up. Here it is my Super Baby. I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few months. What wisdom can I share with you as you move ahead into adulthood?  Not too long ago while I was hiking my favorite trail along the Pacific Coast I saw a huge flock of parachuters….hang-a-mans. I stopped and counted fourteen! I thought of four-year old you….how excited you’d have been to witness such a thing! It got me thinking…parachutes….hmmmm….I’ve always had a thing for stories,analogies, metaphors…parallels.

*******

Parachute Parable….

Prepare: Back in the day people were  required to pack their own chute. Why was this? Trust…your life is on the line. Who best can you trust better than yourself? In life you will be called over and over to rely on yourself for big things and a crapload of little things. Anticipate this. Though its difficult to know what is to come…being prepared by trusting your gut, your instincts, your intuition, will help you to protect yourself.

Fear and hesitation: How many times have you felt scared about something and later you laughed only to realize how silly you were being? Some fears are just worries that we confuse ourselves with.  On the other hand, listen to  your fears and hesitations.  Listen with your soul.. If it’s that deep…protect yourself, pause, give yourself time to evaluate this inner fear.  If it is legitimate I hope you don’t hesitate to armor your mind, your heart or your body if you have to……no matter what the world, society, your friends, or even your family says.

Jump: The hardest things we come across sometimes are those first leaps of faith. So many times we stand with our toes to the edge looking down, wind in our face, clinging to something, anything, stable and seemingly safe.  Our heart screams “JUMP!”, but our mind whispers “Cling on…”

Follow that heart, my boy…jump….because when you take off guess what you do? You…..

Fly: Once  you push yourself out over the edge there will be that magnificent moment of letting go as you soar and float in the air.  Freedom rushing at you faster than you can breathe. Feel it…relish in it.  Soak it in.  Take it in.  Freedom in the flying only lasts for moments sometimes.  Acknowledge those moments. Tuck them in your memory so you always work to find more!

Trust: Again, this word. In the beginning I mentioned trusting yourself….so magnificently important. But you know what else is crucial? Trusting others; Your friends, your family…your people.  Just as a parachutist trusts the giant piece of cloth and ropes he is strapped into to keep him from splatting on the Earth below, find confidence and sureness in the people you surround yourself with.  These are the ones who will stand in and up for you, the ones who willingly lend a hand…no strings attached!  And the people who love you.  No one in their right mind jumps without a chute….find those you depend on…they will catch you as you fall.  

Community: Remember that bad ass VHS video that that man we discovered folding a parachute in the park gave you when you were just a little guy? You watched that goofy 80’s video over and over until we all had it memorized!  It was a film about a community of parachutists that banned together with their common interest.  So much fun they seemed to have, each had a part in their crazy silly world.  Go out there, my boy, go out and find your community.  Fall into it.  Be a leader…but know at other times it’s ok to be a follower.  Just support those around you as they support you as well.  Give and take.  Surround yourself with the company of those who you respect.  And most of all feel honored by the appreciation they give you.  

Expectation:All jumpers expect the plan to go as…well…as planned.  Kinda like this:

1. Go up in plane

2.Put on chute

3. Jump out of perfectly good plane

4. Free fall

5. Pull chute

6. Sail safely to the ground and land on two feet.

Not all landings are that pretty though.  You may get dragged to the ground.  You may land in a tree.  

The variables of life have a way of ruining our expectations…our perfect landings.  

We cannot help being disappointed when we are left with unfulfilled expectations, ruined plans, broken hearts.  There will always be moments of disappointment, fear, sadness, hurt…sometimes these moments will last longer…like days or months or even years.  I can only hope they don’t.  Be careful with your expectations. Don’t let ’em control you.  

Live in the moments and not in the plans.  

When things go awry…remember, you’ve got a back up chute.  And there is always another chance for another jump.

******

Over the years I’ve told you the story  about my dad, your Grampy’s philosophy of learning to fly….His job, he said, as a parent was to teach his children, his birds, to fly….how to grow up and know how to take care of  ourselves on our own.  I didn’t really grasp this until, you, Keaton, my firstborn, came along.  I so wanted to cling to you and hold you tight and not ever let go…but little by little you as you grew and got closer to the edge my grasp loosened as you…. ……my Super Baby …………………………………

You taught me to fly. ………………………………………………………………

I love you…..I think you are so neat…and I think you are ready.  

Now jump!  

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