How I Learned to Fly

You, like I, have probably experienced falling in a dream. The bottom drops out and you plummet. Real pit of the stomach in the roof of the mouth night terrors.

You know the feeling, and it all snaps in a heart-stopping moment before touchdown. Did my heart just stop? Did I just swallow my tongue? Why is the bed bouncing? Wait a minute; was I…levitating? I don’t even remember where I was, or what I was doing. Nothing mattered more than the specificity of solitary certainty of imminent death. And having it snatched away at a hair’s breadth from eternity, you sort of feel that you have witnessed how death will come when the Great Interruption actually visits. You know what I mean, right?

I haven’t had that dream for years now, but there was a period in my life when it was common. Then I stumbled upon a secret. Or so it seemed at the time.

I learned how to fly

The nightmares would start with gaping fissure opening up beneath me. I would be taking a step and the abyss would appear and I would fall in. Until, that is, I realized if I could avoid putting my weight on the front foot, quickly advancing my back foot, I could span the opening and stand safely on the other side.

Then the dream spinner got wise. No sooner had I hopscotched the first pitfall than the ground beneath the second foot opened up as well.

But hang on. if it worked for the first opening…

Yes, I could forestall the second calamity in the same manner. I felt the suspension in the ceiling of my gut. Like an emptiness, a buoyancy. It was true, there was no step I could not suspend. I just leaned forward, held up by that vacancy.

Initially, I was content to simply survive at ground level, stepping from fissure to pit. But once reconciled to being untethered, I simply had to sustain the visceral void. No longer bound to the earth, I rose up, and by angling my intent, I soared. Over the ensuing decades, falling from a great height ceased to be a thing.