There is a small, black and white picture that sits in the cozy cove of my living room that I call my writing space. It is a rather plain, yet interesting, picture.
It is an old photograph, a mostly silhouette actually, of an early-model glider plane with an open cab, in which a pilot can be seen steering the engineless plane. The right hand of the pilot rests on a piece of the triangular frame of the glider, while the left hand can be seen holding onto what looks to be a sort of steering mechanism.
I have always wondered who took the picture, because the view is eye-level with the plane and pilot. Someone on a nearby hilltop perhaps, or maybe another pilot in a glider, flying along side? I have been told that the photograph was taken somewhere about the 1920s, and that the pilot is flying over a European countryside.
The pilot is my maternal grandmother.
This photograph of my grandmother flying the engineless plane is a fairly recent addition to my writing space. But the story of her as a young woman, flying glider planes–the only woman to do so, of her friends and family at the time–is something I am intimately familiar with—having listened to the story with wide eyes as a child, and holding it close to my heart, growing up.
I only met my grandmother a handful of times, on frugal trips we made overseas, and my mind does not remember the dancing eyes and impish smile that I observe in the few pictures of her in old albums. But her pioneering spirit, captured in this special photograph, has undoubtedly influenced me in far-reaching ways.
When I catch myself in the rut of circular thinking or the limiting confines of my thoughts, I find myself looking to her silhouette. And I feel relief.
“Oh yes,” I remember. “I am a vast and limitless being – with endless potential. I am here to express all of me, whatever that may look like. My limitations are only the ones I put on myself.”
And I watch her as she soars in the sky.
I am gratefully certain that, while I did not know this surely amazing woman, this image of her in my mind flying glider planes, daring to be herself in a time and society that lagged behind her own personal evolution, has shaped my perceptions of the world—my world—forever.
Who knows, for instance, if I would have pursued a career in the world of firefighting–something definitely out of the box of my own thinking– without her story imbued in my bones?
Who knows if I would have had the courage to step into my authenticity on the dance floor, or declare myself a writer, an artist, had it not been for the indelible impression of her spirit upon my mind’s eye.
It is for this reason, when I go to the elementary schools, on the big red fire truck, dressed in my fire gear and ready to talk about fire safety and “Stop, drop and roll,” I am highly aware of all the little girls–and boys for that matter–who are looking at me, many with those same wide open eyes, I once had.
“Look! There’s a girl,” some of them whisper.
I smile big and send the little people a wink, hoping to infuse them with a sense of possibility and the limitlessness of their true nature.
So how do we get started on our journey of authentic becoming?
Follow your heart. What speaks to your being and resonates with your soul? Do not limit yourself to the status quo.
Quiet your mind chatter, and drop into the core essence of who you are—you may be surprised to find the natural, centered, all knowing being at your core. Expand your ideas about who you think you are.
Notice the pioneers that cross your path, the one’s that follow their own drum beat, and be inspired by their example. Recognize that you have the same innate potential.
Allow each soul to walk its path, have the courage to walk your own, and celebrate this divine opportunity in this lifetime to create your heart’s desire.
This morning, as I danced my weekly free-form dance practice, I was again reminded of the vast potential of our collective human being-ness. I noticed a swirling rainbow room, full of beings expressing their unique individuality. Some danced wild moves in pairs or groups or by themselves. Others moved deliberately and subtly. Others seemed to weave in and out of their own internal dance. And everyone allowed the other to be.
I celebrated this microcosm of the larger planet and danced my own prayer that all may find the freedom to follow their hearts to their own authentic being-ness.
Recently, my curly-haired, seven-year old was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
He answered loudly and boldly, and without hesitation, “I want to be Myself!”
As the breeze from an invisible glider plane blew over my shoulders, I knew his great-grandmother was smiling from ear to ear.