Peering through the ski goggles that kept my eyes from the sting of sub-zero air, I looked down through my feet at the frozen ground, which now stood 2,500 feet below me. It was my first flight in an ultralight, in fact, my first flight in a small aircraft.
I somehow had convinced my parents of the necessity of taking this flight. Feeling invincible as most fifteen year old boys do, I was sandwiched between a cold grey overcast and the flat grey terrain on the precarious perch-of-a-seat that resembled a lawn chair with bicycle pedals. I felt the rush of my life as the pilot sitting behind me weaved a course over the airfield and then handed the controls over to me.
Was I scared? Not one bit. In fact, as soon as my hand wrapped around the control stick, I knew that I had to learn to fly. A childhood dream was born on the impetuous winds of youth! To give the kind reader an idea of what it feels like to be in an ultralight in winter, I found this YouTube video below. It is not of me but of another aviatior.
The smile plastered on my face was set even more permanently by the ice forming on my ski mask around my mouth and nostrils. As we began our descent and I handed the controls over to the pilot, my mind began spinning about how to convince my parents that their first child needed to learn to fly in a homebuilt ultralight.
Wasting no time, I worked on my dad the entire trip home from the airfield. Like any good father, he listened dutifully, noting the points I was making that justified my readiness while he looked at me no doubt thinking, “but he’s just a baby!” That evening, we presented my case to my mother.
Back and forth the conversation went – the pros, the cons, the risks, the rewards – and then came the long overnight wait as the jury deliberated. To my surprise, they came to me in the morning with a counter-proposal.
“We are very excited about your excitement,” my dad began, “but…” My mind started to race, “Oh no, nothing good comes after the conjunction “but” no matter how much PBS tried to brainwash me with the ditty ‘Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function?'”
“But…” he continued “we would like you to train in a real airplane and not an ultralight.”
“Real airplane?” Did I hear him correctly? I am going to learn to fly in a real airplane? Woo hoo! I never would have thought I would have a bigger, deeper grin shining on my face than the day before, but out it came.
In retrospect I find myself even more thankful for my understanding and supportive parents than I was then. Some 23 years have gone under the bridge since that first flight and yet their unwavering encouragement and support has not waned. Their support inspires me to assist others to fulfill their dreams and to know happiness.
My parents typically required that I generated and contributed half of the financial requirement of anything new I took on in my youth. It made sense then and it makes sense now. I valued the opportunity so much more because it cost me something!
I’ve found over the years that giving too much to people without a balanced quid pro quo can create a fatal imbalance. The balance of giving and receiving is the basis of mutually respected value. For example, giving children allowance without responsibilities doesn’t help children.
When you invest in others in your world, take care not to overindulge them. If they become spoiled, they will not value what they’re receiving and they ultimately will lose their respect for you and for others. There is a delicate balance, for parsimoniousness is of no help either.
Enjoy the opportunities you have to develop those around you. Be willing to be surprised by their achievements and remember, your fulfillment depends on your ability to assist others to theirs.