Flying has been a constant theme in my life so far.
I experienced my first flight in utero, when my heavily pregnant mum traveled from the dust-filled town of Meekatharra in northern Western Australia to the big smoke of Perth to give birth to me.
Just a few months later I was on a plane heading to the other side of the country to meet my Nana for the first time.
During primary school summer holidays, my sister and I would travel as ‘unaccompanied minors’ to stay with our Nana in Adelaide, South Australia for a month of delicious silverside sandwiches, toast with apricot jam and real coke, while Mum worked as a teller at the local ANZ bank.
I would also fly around the country attending national dancing competitions, dressed in a state team tracksuit made from parachute material (it was the nineties).
I guess it kinda made sense that I would end up working as a flight attendant. I loved the forward motion of zig zagging the globe, until jet lag, apathy, addiction and some re-evaluation stopped me in my tracks.
Soon enough, I was ‘funemployed’ – back in the air again with a one way ticket to Cambodia and a vague dream about a life of adventure, creativity and meaning.
Three and a half years later and I am currently experiencing my longest stint on terra firma for some time (except for this one exhilarating exception).
Since returning from the UK in January 2013, post Rickshaw Run, I have been a land-lover, putting down some roots in Mexico which I have regularly packed into my car and toured the roads of Belize, Guatemala and the US with.
And yet, the flying theme has never been more present in my life. Since Tyrhone’s foray into paramotoring, I have been getting initiated as air traffic controller, ground engineer, crew psychologist and training support.
It has been the wildest ride yet, let me tell you.
Fear has become my most regularly felt emotion and while that is actually nothing new, the stakes are higher than ever as I now put my faith in a half-millimeter thick piece of that damn parachute material to carry the life of my beloved.
My whole life, I’ve never been scared of flying… until now.
And honestly, I don’t know that I’ll ever not be.
But like all things that are scarey, watching Tyrhone get his wings has been one of the most remarkable journeys I have had the privilege of witnessing.
It has changed me, as well as him.
We were both put through the ringer, being extremely under-prepared for the emotional, mental, physical and financial pressure it would place upon us.
We were also unprepared for how it would crack open both our lives, allowing us a glimpse of our limitlessness (which reminds me of another great film).
For Tyrhone, who grew up poor and uneducated in rural South Africa, learning to fly has completely altered his perspective on his personal power and capabilities.
Nothing has come easy for him, nothing, and yet, through not giving up, he has catapulted his life into a dimension of existence many only dream of.
He wouldn’t tell you this, of course. He thinks he just got lucky. From where I stand, then, luck must involve a shit load of heartache, hard work and determination.
It’s been a real honor to watch him transform into the man he was always meant to be.
It’s been such a TRIP to watch this dream evolve from a pretty ‘out there’ idea (which, to be honest, I thought would die a quick death along with many of our other ideas), into a visceral reality.
It’s been so, so good for me to watch this journey unfold and to stay on the cheer leading team when I was well and truly out of enthusiasm for this obscure – and stressful, and expensive – sport.
I’ve had my toes frozen off in Montana, almost died of heat exhaustion in Mexico and experienced heart palpitations in California. I’ve faced my own selfishness and through that, have become intimate with my unconditional love for this guy I share my life with.
I read a lot of inspirational books about the archetypal ‘hero’s journey’, but nothing comes close to living side by side with one.
Watching Tyrhone follow this dream and in the process discover his greatest passion in life has become one of the biggest inspirations on my own path.
There have been many, many low points. Times we both thought about giving up on the dream, and even on each other. But like all good movies, just when you think the hero has been beaten, something or someone swoops in to rescue him and save the day.
Paramotoring, as it turns out, has rescued us both from complacency and mediocrity.
It has encouraged me to reach further and dream bigger dreams for myself. It has encouraged me to ‘screw the expense’ when something really calls to me.
It has shown me that I can do anything I want to do, as long as I don’t give up.
Most of all, it has given me the biggest kick to see this guy have so much fun and get so lit up by something. I often say that if he were any more relaxed he’d be comatose, so to see him get amped up (and slightly shit-scared) about flying is a pleasant surprise.
God knows, he deserves every joy-filled, adrenaline-pumping moment.
The truth is, we all do. We just have to believe ourselves worthy of a phenomenal existence and move toward it with everything we have. When we break through the walls of resistance and fear, we realize that the life we want is actually the one we are meant to live.