There is a photograph of her oldest son in which he is jumping on a trampoline, completely abandoning himself to the air between his feet and the earth. It embodies everything about him, childhood, and life.
His hair is suspended, in the captured moment, in an awkward flop covering one eye as the wind pushes it down against his rising head. His mouth is open as wide as it goes, gulping in the excitement of this experience whole. His arms and legs are crooked in varying directions as his body is flung up beyond his control. He is enthralled. He is entranced. He is ecstatic.
Every child has their first jump on a trampoline, though she isn’t sure that every child has the experience that her son had. Looking at him, she remembers a conversation they had once when he was around 3…
“Mama, I wanna fly.”
“You wanna fly? Like a bird?”
“Yeah, Mama. Like a bird.”
“Oh, well baby, you need wings to fly. We don’t have wings.”
He runs off to another room, leaving her silent and confused. He returns a moment later with his socks and shoes and presents them to her. “Okay. We go to the store. Get wings. So I can fly.”
An intelligent adult would look at him on that trampoline and tragically see a child jumping on a suspended, springy surface, bouncing for as long as his weight and momentum will provide the necessary force for relaunch. They would see the happiness, and the abandon, yes. They would, perhaps, see the struggle to remain on his feet and satisfaction of his own perpetual motion. For all that they would see, they would miss what was right before their eyes.
But he knows the truth…he is flying.
He isn’t falling, he isn’t bouncing, he isn’t jumping. He takes flight as his feet brush with the ground momentarily. He hangs in the air and can feel that gravity is escaping him, even if just for a moment. He is flying. And it is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen.
And you can’t fly if you are weighing yourself down with a world of obligations. You can’t even jump.