30 December 2010

To Fly

The earliest chinese character that I remember learning is 'to fly'. I was sitting in a small classroom in Kuala Belait, Brunei, and I remember my teacher writing the character on the chalkboard and then gesturing to the class what the character meant. It is a vivid memory. I was five years old.

Fei

When I was nine my father noticed me staring out of the car window during a road trip in Malaysia and asked me what I was looking at. I replied, 'I am watching myself fly.' He was quiet for a moment then replied, 'Son.. It is important to know the difference between what is real and what is not. Some things are possible and some things are not.'

A program on TV that I saw when I was twelve showed a man jumping from the edge of a cliff holding a huge kite. That was my first glimpse of hanggliding.

It wasn't until I was twenty that I acted on my thoughts of flight. I was riding a motorcycle at 180 km/h along a lonely highway on an Autumn day in Vancouver when I was filled with the sensation of and desire to lift off my bike into the air.

After some research I tracked down the only hanggliding instructor in Vancouver, Barry Bateman, who was no longer actively instructing, and convinced him to teach me to fly.

Free flight has become a central theme in my life. When I think back to the beginning, it seems as if it was always in me, waiting to get out into the light.

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