"Right To Fly"

One of my favorite artists is John Mayer. I know it may be atypical as a man to consider John Mayer among my favorite musical acts but he quite literally taught me how to play guitar. 

I learned all of his songs as a kid working to emulate his sound and style on the guitar, mostly at that point in an attempt to attract or get the attention of the girl I liked in school. 

I have always believed him to be one of the greater guitarist of his generation as well as an ample word smith who is able to take a lot of the everyday feelings we all experience and synthesize them into easy to consume, bite sized lyrics that resonate on different levels across varying seasons of life. 

I imagine a lot of people think of “Body Is A Wonderland” when they hear the name John Mayer. The lyrics that I think of most though, are from the song “Wheel” off of his sophomore album, Heavier Things.

Right To Fly
John Mayer's live album cover

The song starts out; “People have the right to fly, and will when it gets compromised.”
It is such a simple line but there is so much to be extracted out of that simple idea. We all have an inherent right to fly. 

Everyone is born into circumstances that are out of their control but as we grow up and our environment begins to shape us, we begin to lift our eyes to where we are headed. For a lot of us, it isn’t until we reach our teenage years where we start to contemplate where we are headed in life. 

In America I do still believe in the idea that anyone is able to overcome their background, the weaknesses in their upbringing, poverty, pain, whatever the conditions may be and step outside of those limitations to overcome and establish a new trajectory for their life. 

The land of opportunity is still ripe for those of us who are willing to keep our heads down, our hearts driven, and not be deterred by the wave of obstacles that will always manage to present themselves at the worst times. 

We all have this right to fly. But most will not choose to do so. Is it because we can’t believe in the possibility? Is it because we make excuses? Can we not keep a single promise to ourselves despite constantly sticking to our word when it comes to someone else’s needs or desires?

It’s easy to instead get caught up in the trenches (read my article that deep dives this idea in more detail) of your own situation and allow it to keep you from seeing what is possible. 

If you are dug 10 feet into the ground just fighting to get through your day to day struggles, it probably feels impossible to imagine that if you just train your line of sight higher, you might see blue skies above. 

The law of holes states: "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging". So what is it that you are currently digging yourself deeper into? Is it debt? Is it unhappiness in a marriage or relationship? 

For me it used to be digging myself deeper and deeper into a feeling of helplessness and crippling anxiety. 

I didn’t even really have a reason for the anxiety that plagued my day to day movements through the world. I just allowed fear of the unknown, stresses of school life, and not taking care of my body culminate into a generalized anxiety that had the potential to strike at any moment. 

It took me several years before I really started to work on how to address it. Let me rephrase that; It took me years before I stopped digging and put down the shovel to really take a hard look around my environment and understand the trench I had found myself in and why I was there. 

If you're struggling with anxiety then read my post about the ways I worked to reduce my anxiety as I became more aware just how much power I had given it over my life. 

We all do this in life. 

It’s just natural in a human world that we face an adversity, a hardship, a loss, and we allow it to sit upon our mental state like a heavy weight, holding us back from being our best self. I did just that during my early 20’s in college.

I wasn’t caring for my body. I was drinking too much alcohol, partying too much in college, not sleeping on a regular schedule, and not eating right. I was overweight and running out of steam to continue attending my classes, feeling burnt out and demotivated. 

I shunned responsibility and was apathetic in general. I wasn’t present in my relationship with my then girlfriend (now wife). I was underperforming in school and afraid of what that would mean for my future. 

All of these things and more became the driving force in my anxiety and depression. Finally, with only 15 hours of school left to finish my degree, I dropped out and went back home.
My road to recovery would be a long one but ultimately I had to stop digging and recognize that I did have the right to fly, I just wasn’t allowing myself to embrace it. 

By putting down the shovel and reflecting on what had dug me into such a deep hole, I took my first step towards gathering the strength, hunger, and drive to become a better version of myself. 

I’m still actively on that journey today. Hell, one of the goals in my current flight through life is just taking the time to type out this blog, at least once a week, for the next 8 weeks. 

Getting myself in shape on Keto is another one of my current pursuits. Starting a podcast with my wife, yet another. I’ve created a wide web of aspirations that I’ve been talking about or dreaming about for the past several years but instead of just talking about them, I’m actively taking measures to follow through on them. 

Instead of getting caught up in the trenches of my day to day fights that we all face, I am really working to lift my eyes upward towards the clouds, to aim for something bigger for myself as a Dad, a husband, an employee, etc.
Is it easy? Not at all. Is it frustrating? Without a doubt? Do I sometimes feel like the energy in my body is entirely lacking and I don’t have another ounce to expend? I think we all do at least once on a week to week basis. 

But I’ve made a commitment to myself, a promise that I want to be the best version of me. 

I am going to keep repeating this sort of mantra to myself and in this blog; We only get one singular life to live and I’d be an idiot if I didn’t grab it full force and do everything I can to live it. 

I don’t want to wait until my life has passed me by to start living. I want to live it right now and I hope that you do too.
Together we can learn how to exercise this right to fly, not allowing it to be compromised or stolen away from us. 

Rachel Hollis summed it well when she said; “I don’t break promises to myself anymore.”  What promises have you been breaking to yourself? 

Start there and devote some special attention and energy to keeping that singular promise to yourself in the next week. It only starts with one promise kept and before you know it you are able to build a rock solid foundation of promises kept, upon which you can build the new you. 

For me, one of my promises is writing in this blog. Another is for my wife and I to read a book together, a little bit at a time, each morning before work. 

Currently we are reading one of her favorites, "Girl Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. For you it may be forcing yourself to wake up 1 hour earlier each morning to spend time running a mile. 

Find something small that you’ve been wanting to do, make yourself a promise, and freaking keep it! 

Just watch… Before you know it you will be flying high, looking down at all of the obstacles that used to feel so immense, now dwindling in the distance as you set your sights on even greater victory and possibility than you ever could have imagined when you used to be digging in the trenches.

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you did please do me a favor and subscribe so you can receive the latest posts as they are published, share this blog with your friends, and comment below to continue the discussion.

Also if you want to keep reading check out my post, "Faced With The Vast Universe" where I discuss the stars, looking up at the night sky, and our place as humans in this expansive and beautiful Universe.

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