The following and all of the other episodes 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.
EPISODE TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN – TAKE TO THE SKY/FLIGHT OF PASSAGE
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
When I was a kid, I wanted to go to Disney World. But due to lack of money, we never did.
Whoa as me.
Fast forward to when I was forty-seven and I saw that not only had Disney bought the rights to Star Wars but they were going to build a section that would hold an area dedicated to Star Wars.
Being a huge Star Wars nerd, you can bet that spoke to me.
I made to comment to my wife, my daughter, my step-son, and anyone who would listen that I wanted to go to Disney World when I turned fifty. That would give them plenty of time to finish building it and for the newness to wear off.
Now, let me describe the time before my fifth birthday.
I was unemployed and trying to find something. I was shifting money around between my credit cards to help make ends meet. When my birthday came, I would have been happy to get anything. Honestly, I felt low and felt I didn’t deserve anything.
I sit down at the dining room table for a little party with my wife, my daughter, and my stepson. I was presented with a Star Wars cake. Then my wife handed me an envelope and when I open it, the card had Mickey Mouse on it. I knew something was up but I didn’t want to believe it. My daughter gave me a Star Wars t-shirt with the Millennium Falcon. My wife gave me a t-shirt that said Disney Bound. After that, my wife sat a wrapped box in front of me. All this time, she was filming me. My heart was telling me what was happening, what I was about to see, and the tears started to flow and I could barely speak. Well, other than, “No…no.”
I pull off the wrapping paper and pop open the box, and inside are two, one pink, and one green, Disney bands to use in the park.
My wife had been planning it for months (long before I lost my job).
And she had given me something I thought was impossible.
During the time between my birthday and the day flew off to Disney, I found a job and my money worries were abated. Whew.
Fast forward again a few months later, we were entering The Magic Kingdom.
I was overwhelmed. I was so full of joy, that I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would. I figured the only time I would cry is when I saw the Millennium Falcon.
I did. Oh, yes, I did.
And there’s a video to prove it.
But for crying, I figured that would be it.
Many moments when I felt like a kid again, full of happiness and joy.
It truly is the most magical place on Earth.
Fate had another special moment in store for me.
We went to the Animal Kingdom. The thing Mindy really wanted to do was see Pandora and night for the light display. (Pandora was the home of the Na’vi in James Cameron’s movie, Avatar…but you knew that)
So, we rode some rides and ate food, went on a safari, and finally made our way to Pandora. To be honest, if we had missed it, I was okay with that. It wasn’t on top of my list.
For me, it was the most beautiful movie I had ever seen if you saw it in IMAX 3D. When you watch it at home, even on a large widescreen, it lacks true beauty. This is strictly my opinion.
This was my thought process as we waited in line to ride Flight of Passage.
The line was long and as I stood there, I thought we had made a mistake. Finally, we got ready to ride. You sat down in a contraption that reminded me of a stripped-down frame of a motorcycle. We had been given 3D glasses and I prepared myself.
And we didn’t even leave the room.
The idea behind the ride as we were all going to be an avatar riding the back of a banshee and would fly around Pandora.
Then…the ride began.
Everything I thought had gone right out the window. Everything I imagined was nothing compared to what happened.
Let me back up a moment.
When I was a kid (and even now as a fifty-year-old man), my superhero wish was I could fly. I wanted to cut trails through the clouds and dive toward the water and fly mere inches from the surface before rising again and hovering to see the world far below me.
No plane. I want to fly all on my own.
When the screen popped on, you are traveling down a wormhole as your ‘conscience’ is being uploaded into your avatar. Then you find yourself on the back of the banshee, though, I don’t remember seeing the back of its head. To me, it felt like I was alone.
And I was flying.
I swept down from a cliff and dived toward the ground below and across the water. I felt the mist.
I didn’t hear anyone else in the room, not even my wife (who later told me she screamed most of the time). I was there.
And…I was flying.
Underneath my 3D glasses, tears fell from my eyes and traveled down my cheeks. And through it all, I was smiling and laughing.
Joy. Overwhelming joy.
(A note here: I’m omitting the rest of my description of the ride.
If you have ridden it, you know. You. Know.
If you haven’t, I want to give you something to look forward to.
And don’t be a cheater and watch it online, if it is online. Go ride it for yourself.
As we got off the ride, I hid my face from the people who walked passed me. I wiped my face as fast as I could and put my sunglasses on. After walking through the tunnel and into the darkening night, I had to stop to get a hold of myself. My sweet wife asked me what was wrong (she thought I had hurt myself). I told her absolutely nothing was wrong. And I smiled at her. I explained to her exactly what I was feeling.
I had been flying.
Yes, I know. It was nothing but an illusion. Of course, I know this.
But aren’t dreams?
And it felt exactly like a very vivid dream.
The four and a half minutes that the ride lasted is something I’ll never forget.
For the rest of the evening, I couldn’t stop thinking about The Flight of Passage. When I closed my eyes that night and before sleep took me, I tried to recreate how I felt.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t.
I hope I find myself there again at Disney World and waiting in line to ride it again. I hope it’s exactly as I remember.
Or, better still, I’ll wake up one morning and big wings will have grown from my back, or just the power to fly will come to me.
And I’ll take flight.
Hell, maybe even a banshee will be sitting in my backyard and want me to jump on its back and take a ride (no tail connection needed).
And I will. No matter how it happens (wings, will, or banshee), I’ll take to the sky.
I’ll take to the sky.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
June 10th, 2022
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.