AMBIENT THOUGHT – EPISODE Ninety Two: Paper Airplane

The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.



I have never been very good at making paper airplanes.

My dad taught me how to fold one when I was a kid and ever since I have tried to perfect the perfect one. I have made them pointed with a bullet like-body and stubbed nose so it’s weighted in the front. I have bent the tips of the wings and even added a paper clip to the front to give it added weight. Every one of them goes about four feet and then heads head first into the ground and crushes on impact. I always expect them to explode and burn each time.

I have got lucky every once in a while. I’ll make the plane in some way I didn’t before. Maybe it’s an extra millimeter of distance between the front to the back or I throw it the absolutely correct way and it will fly. It flies like a hawk in a thermal high above, just the perfect glide.
Then it lands with a gentle slide.
I pick it up again and throw it in the opposite direction and it goes four feet, heads down, and crashes into the floor. BOOM!!!

I’ve seen other people pick up the same kind of paper I did, fold it the same way I did, and throw it the same way I DID, and watch the plane sail like there was an invisible motor on it. On and on and on.

Is it just technique?

I feel like making and flying a paper airplane is just like life. It takes the correct technique and practice. It takes learning from mistakes and trying new ways. It takes the right type of paper, not too heavy or too light. And it takes the right amount of force to get the air under the wings and give it the right amount of lift.

We seem to start out with the same kind of paper airplane, the one that’s pointed and looks like a jet fighter. It’s made for speed, like a dart. We want it fast. Some take to the air and get to where they are going in a split second.
Some go four feet…and crash.
When we’re younger, we want things fast, fast, fast, now, now, now. We want everything right then and have no idea that we can’t get everything we want when we want it. If they learn that, we move on to another way we want to live. If not, odds are we might crash and burn.

Then we move on the making our paper airplane more like a glider. We fold the paper and fold in the point to give it some weight in front and bend the tips of the wings. We want it to sail and float for as long as it can. If you throw it correctly, it will do just that. But if you throw it too hard, four feet…burn.
When we get older, life can feel like it’s speeding up, that end date we all face feels more definite. We prefer to take more time to float and enjoy the ride at a slower, more comfortable speed. Time goes by fast enough and we want to make it last, make it count more. If we don’t learn that….four feet….burn.

We try to make our plane more flyable by adding weights (paper clips, etc.) or try different ways to fly it. We try over the head throws and underhand throws. We try throwing them straight up to make sure they get plenty of air so it might sail longer. That works…sometimes. Or it might just decide to do a loop-de-loop and crash into the back of your head. Sometimes the direct course is not necessarily the right course of action.

Now for the really deep part…

We might think of our lives as one long flight (hopefully it’s a long one). But, I believe, it’s a series of shorter flights. Some a good distance, some…four feet….BOOM. It’s the learning that is involved to make your plane fly smoother and longer. That takes crashing it a few times. Even when we think we have perfected our plane making skills and have some really successful flights under our belts. Just because you may feel like you’re the paper plane flying champion, it doesn’t make you immune to the occasional four-foot BOOM flight from time to time.

The point is to keep our planes flying for as long as we can. Because we are only given one piece of paper. (Of course, I hope I’m wrong on this and we have more than one life which means a ream or a whole box of paper to make a life with.)
But I think it’s just one piece of paper. It will start out crisp and strong and allow more crash and burns. Then, as we make different planes, more floatable planes, that piece of paper becomes more worn and the previous folds can be seen. It’s all about finding the right fold in a short amount of time. If you don’t, that paper will not hold up for a long time. It might just get ripped too much or folded too many times that it becomes unfoldable and just becomes too weak to hold any shape at all.

I like paper airplanes. It’s something that most people know how to do. Most of us learned how from our friends at school, maybe from our parents, brothers or sisters… We learned how they made them, did it their way for a while and then tried it our own ways. Some of those different styles succeeded, some didn’t. If they didn’t we tried again until it was all our own.
Isn’t that a good definition of life?

I hope that your paper airplane flies long and holds the air. I hope that when you pick it up again to throw it does a loop and continues on and doesn’t go four feet and BOOM.
But sometimes we learn more from the four-foot BOOM flights.
Then I hope your plane stays intact and ready to fly more.

Fly, baby. Fly!!!

-Loyd Elmore
December 1st, 2017


I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.

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