Today, I went to the hang gliding training hills. It was one of those days that combined ridiculous mistakes with unexpected successes. Although I had my share of spills and chills today (see video), in the end, I passed the required test of successfully executing 4 Hang I flights in a row. This means I move to the big hill. Not the mountain yet (thank goodness!) but from the bunny hill to the big hill. It’s a momentous occasion. As my instructor said, I’ve worked hard for this moment.
I pause and think about this for a moment. I don’t believe I’ve ever worked so hard for so long on achieving a novice skill level in my life. This is a point of pride–to have stuck it out for so long just because it was fun. I let go of my expectations, goals, and frustrations and just had fun. Had I done anything else, I would have quit after the 3rd day out on the training hills.
As it is, I’ve flown down that baby hill so many times, I’ve gotten attached to it. I can tell stories about the community on that hill. The women who inspired me to keep trying–especially one who told me she’d been coming out for over a year and was still learning to land on her feet (she’s been coming out infrequently). The student who was 60 years old and learning to hang glide for the first time. The dogs who have accompanied me through my journey from ground school. The instructors who insisted it was OK to be on the slow plan. Even the view from the hill of the mountain ridge, the big hill, the trains, the deer that would occasionally wander by.
All of it together kept me coming back. And now, I find myself attached to that small hill. As I ride the Kubota over to the big hill, I find myself actually tearing up a little. This catches me by surprise. I’m confused as to whether I am sad or overjoyed. Having never given much thought to this day, not really believing it would ever happen, I find myself unprepared for the sudden emotion.
I perch on the edge of the big hill looking down and am amazed at how much bigger it really is. I look across the training grounds and realize that while I have been enjoying the journey instead of focusing on the destination, I managed to arrive at the destination full of wonder and excitement. This is a new lesson for me after a lifetime of holding so tightly to goals that I squeeze the life out of them.
The wind doesn’t cooperate today. There is only one direction to fly off the big hill and we decide today is not the day for my first flight. As I head back down, I am neither disappointed nor relieved. After all, it’s taken me 5 months to get here, I’m in no hurry.