Two Hours in the Sky With No Pants

Today was a very good day for flying. I was sitting in the office, looking out the windows at the clouds, and knew that I had to find a way to escape from work. By 3pm, the forces of cloud-suck were far too great, and I left early. I had already packed all of my flying gear in the car, having previously checked weather reports that called for good conditions.

However, much to my dismay, when I went into the locker room at work to change into my flying cloths I discovered that I did not bring my pants. I had also worn a skirt that day, so there was no way I could fly in that. If I went from work, back home, and then to the mountain, it would cost me almost two hours of flying time, gas, and sitting in traffic. I could pick up a cheap pair of hiking pants on the way, but that too would be time-consuming and unnecessary. So I decided to go flying without them.

Now, lest you think my lower half was completely in the buff, I did have an outer flight suit that I wore. I managed to launch from Poo Poo Point, on the north end of Tiger Mountain by around 4:30 PM, climbing to an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet and floating over lower Issaquah for nearly an hour. It’s COLD up there with no pants. However, I did discover that I could feel the temperature difference between my right and my left legs as I flew through the air, allowing me to make better decisions regarding which way to turn to remain in the thermals.

Flying is always a gateway to joy for me, but this flight was especially so. Imagine something that you truly love, and then knowing that in a matter of days, it may be months or more before you get to experience it again. With the birth of you two literally around the corner, each and every flight is an experience of sublime beauty and pleasure, knowing full well that in a matter of days, my focus will shift dramatically.

So as I circled one thermal with a bald eagle no more than 20 feet away from me, I was deeply in tune with the feel of the wind on my face, the feel of the lift upon my wing, and the magnificence of the creature who was my flying companion. I could see every feather of its outstretched wing, especially the ones on the outer wingtip as it felt the air with all the confidence and familiarity that you and I typically associate with the feel of the ground beneath our feet.

After reaching the top of the thermal, the eagle and I parted ways amid the vast expanse of the sky that we share. As I put myself into a slow, final, and graceful turn to the right, I could see Mt. Ranier with crystal clarity, Puget Sound, Seattle’s skyline, lake Washington, Bellevue, Lake Sammamish, Mt. Si and the Cascades off in the distance. I was alone now, with the freedom to go wherever I wanted merely by the gentle shift of weight in my harness and the control-lines in my hands that led to the trailing edge of my wing. Looking up, there was a cloud beginning to disperse above my head, and the blue and white sky contrasted with the bold red, white, and gray of my wing, beneath which hung over a hundred thin lines of various colors like the stings of a harp, except that they all came together in two points by my sides where I could play with them.

While some flights are a rapid, wild, invigorating rush of adrenaline, others, like this one, are an experience of peace, serenity, and joy. I fly because I feel the need to travel freely amid the sky and clouds. I fly because I feel it deeply and profoundly within my flesh and bones. I fly because it is a consistently reliable gateway to my essence of JOY.

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