22: Flying at Fifty

22: Flying at Fifty

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions

Flying at Fifty

The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.

~J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird

All my life I’ve had flying dreams that ended badly. They always ended with flying that became falling and that terrible feeling of tumbling out of control toward the ground below. I’ve noticed that I have more of these flying and falling dreams when my life is in turmoil.

So I guess it’s no surprise that I had a lot of these dreams in the year before I turned fifty, which was an intimidating milestone for me. I’d heard so much about how women become invisible at fifty, about all the physical and emotional difficulties that come with the age.

I tried to talk myself out of it. My career was in a good place, my family was doing well, and I felt great. So why worry?

But this kind of worry is rarely rational and it doesn’t respond to a reasoned argument. I continued to fret, to look at myself in the mirror and wonder who I was at this age. Fortunately, I didn’t have to rely on reasoning to pull me out of my anxiety. I was rescued, by my sister and my friends and by a dream.

For my fiftieth birthday, my sister and some of my friends threw me a party. They went all out, giving me beautiful silk scarves, new shoes, a massage, and, of course, a great deal of chocolate. My sister even bought me a Barbie doll, because we never had them when we were growing up and she knew I had always wanted one.

“It’s about time,” she told me, “that you have exactly what you want, just because you want it.”

Then, one of my Jewish friends told me that in the Hebrew Scriptures, every fifty years is referred to as a Jubilee year. At that time, slaves were freed, debt was forgiven, and all old chains were broken. Fifty is a year of liberation.

That night, I dreamt I was at the beach with my husband. As we watched the sun play on the water, he took my hand and said, “Let’s fly.”

I was suddenly frightened. “I don’t know if I can,” I told him.

“Sure you can,” he said. “Just go ahead.”

I started moving my arms as if I was swimming, and sure enough, I began ascending toward the sky. I heard my husband laughing, and he joined me as we soared through clouds, dipped down toward the water, and then soared again. For the first time in my life, I was flying in my dream, and I wasn’t at all afraid. In fact, I felt completely in control of the situation, as if I’d been doing this my whole life. The motion was gentle and soothing, and the vista was grand. I felt connected to the earth and water below me, and yet free of its gravitational constraints.

When it was time to land, we simply swam downward to a gentle landing.

Dreams are the stories our souls tell us when we’re ready to hear them. That night, fifty years of falling ended and I understood that I’d accepted my personal power in a new way.

The next morning, I woke up and decided that fifty was indeed a Jubilee year after all.

~Barbara Chepaitis

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