October 30, 2012
I recently celebrated my birthday, and it was a very humbling, perspective changing day for me. I received hundreds of messages from people; everyone from my sixth grade teacher, to friends I rarely see. With Facebook, it’s so much easier to connect, but really if you take a step back and look at all the people who took the time to send you a message, it’s really impactful. The most emotional part was getting messages from people I knew from way back, simply saying that they were proud of me and of what I have accomplished. This was especially welcome, since there are days where I wake up and wonder, “What the hell am I doing?” As my mom says, “Ashley, the theme of your life has been “What the hell am I doing,” and you’ve figured it out so far.” Getting the chance to pilot an airplane gave me even more perspective on my mother’s comforting words.
My boyfriend, Rich gave me an extravagant gift: he rented me an airplane, and got an instructor, so I could be a pilot for a day. The gift was extravagant in itself, but the meaning behind it was even more marvelous. You see, he did that for me not to impress me, but because he heard me say in an interview that after I survived emergency brain surgery I was told that I would never be able to do so many things, and that I’ve accomplished all those things, except fly an airplane.
Well, I smashed my record of achieving the unachievable with the help of Derek, my flight instructor, and my boyfriend. I took off the plane, learned some turns, did some roller coaster like maneuvers, and enjoyed the breathtaking views that beautiful southern California has to offer. As I flew looking on from the pilot’s seat I felt as if I were in a dream. Each dip and turn of the plane made everything seem more real. For a moment, I even flashed back to being in the hospital when I was told how difficult my life was going to be. The truth is that it has been difficult; but the struggle has been totally worth it.
I have never even thought about flying an airplane, I figured that there are plenty of other things in the world that I am able to do, and with my visual limitations after my surgery, I would never actually be able to fly an airplane anyways. Rich didn’t know me when I had my surgery; I was only ten years old. I never even told him much about it, he literally found out from watching a YouTube video! The fact that he recognized, and helped me to see my own tenacity was a gift within itself.
My favorite line from a movie is when Yoda says to Anakin in Star Wars Episode III, “You must let go of everything you fear to lose.” I never feared losing anything when I was ten years old, and even though my sight became impaired from the surgery, I never really lost anything. The only thing I gained was fear; the fear of having something taken away by surprise again. I’m not sure if I just became more aware of it, but it seemed that every time something good happened, something else was “taken away.”
The truth is that nothing is ever “lost.” Everything and everyone lives out their purpose in our lives, however long that might be. Things happen when they are supposed to happen; even if the thought of achieving them becomes a ghost in our minds. The hard part is balancing the equation of life, to come to these solutions. The right place+ the right people + the right circumstances = MAGIC!
Taking off is the easy, but staying in the air is the difficult part. In order to take off, you have to let go. So I say let go, fly, and let life take you to places you never would have dreamed!
Also seen at Ashleyruski.com