On this day in 1496, Leonardo di Vinci made trials on his flying machine. It looked like a cross between a helicopter and a hang glider. The machine test failed. Instead of giving it the good ole Renaissance try, di Vinci let his failure to fly keep him grounded for years. I can relate. I’ve failed, or thought I failed, at things before, and determined never to try those things again.
I don’t know if it’s the haze of youth, but here’s how I remembered my one and only attempt at ballet: I had the opportunity to take ballet and tap lessons from a studio near my daycare. I was 4. My mom took me to the dance shop, bought all my supplies. I loved the tap shoes – they made fantastically raucous clackety-clack on the floors. I also had slippers and leotards and couldn’t wait for my first lesson. It was disastrous. I couldn’t get the hang of any of the feet positions, had no discernible talent or flexibility. I think after a few weeks, my mother and the teacher put me out of my misery, but it was no longer fun for me, and hadn’t been since that first day.
I failed to fly. I had all these visions of ballerina’s soaring across the stage, floating above the boards on satin toe shoes. I looked more like a circus clown version of those ballerinas, scowl on my face, tights in tatters and graceful like a newborn giraffe. I’m not sure whether another round of lessons would have corrected the problems. That’s what happens when you quit, you’re left with “what-ifs.”
What if I had just overcome my difficulties? What if I could have pressed on a little longer? What if I could have used my God-given problem-solving skills? What if I didn’t allow my perception of other people’s perceptions to cloud my decision-making process? What if I wasn’t afraid to fail? What if I trusted myself? What if I trusted God? What if I trusted my friends and family to support me?
We can fly. Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” We aren’t relegated to what is possible NOW. With God, ALL THINGS are possible.
On this day in 2004, NASA’s Spirit landed on Mars and began transmitting images back to Earth. Five hundred and four years after Leonardo di Vinci failed to get off the ground, we landed on Mars – again. This year, believe in the possibilities of flight rather than the risks of failure.
How do you want to fly? What challenges have you faced?