I hold a Canadian Commercial Pilot’s license with over 500hrs of flight time logged. I am also licensed to fly ultralights, hangliders and paragliders.
So how did this passion all begin?
I believe the seeds of most adult hobbies and passions are shared by someone when we were very young. Often it is parent, a family member or a mentor of some sort who plants the seed of wonder and excitement at a very young age.
That was certainly the case in my childhood while growing up in South Africa. My father was mostly absent in my childhood and I have precious few recollections of him ever holding me, giving me any attention or sharing things with me. My father was a complicated and tormented soul who eventually drank himself to death.
The man who most influenced my life as a young boy between the ages six to ten was my magical, wonderful and kind Grandpa on my mom’s side. His name was Frank Perry and he showered me, and my brothers and sister with love and attention. Even as I write these words, I am filled with emotion. I don’t think he ever realized the impact he had on my life. He had this gift of turning the most mundane “crap” into a fantasy land of wonderment. I remember fondly our trips to the “Smashed Cars,” a derelict abandoned pile of old rusty cars, which to me was like visiting the starting line of a Grand Prix. My brothers and I would clamber over the rusty old chassis making car noises and generally having the time of our lives.
My grandpa fought in the Second World War so bed time stories were re-enactments of heroic battles, complete with all the associated noises including but not limited to explosions, gunfire and whining spitfires fighter planes releasing their bombs from the air.
But the “Granddaddy” of them all for me was the drive in the 1960’s V6 Ford Zephyr to watch the small Cessna’s taking off and landing at Virginia Airport. I was mesmerized as my grandpa would create fictitious names of war pilots as they zoomed into the air complete with his added sound effects of roaring engines and guns blazing.
No wonder that during my backpacking years in my early twenties I stumbled across hang gliding while in Sydney, Australia,and soon I was ridge soaring with the eagles at Stanwell Park, south of Sydney near the town of Wollongong.
When I settled back to the country of my birth, Canada, in 1989 I pursued my love of aviation, and secured my Private Pilots license, and then my Twin Engine Commercial IFR and Float Plane endorsement. A few years later I discovered paragliding and was hooked. It’s the ultimate rush, suspended from a harness, with only a fabric wing keeping you airborne 4000ft above the earth relying on ridge lift and thermals to keep you aloft for hours.
Flying was the time in my life where I was 110% in control of my destiny. Any wrong move could mean catastrophe, but the exhilaration of living on the edge defied description. It was a time for me where I was 110% committed and focused in the present moment. I touched the face of The Uni-verse as I flew paragliders in spectacular settings such as the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the stunning Queensland coast of Eastern Australia and the magnificent Southern Alps and Fiordlands of New Zealand.
Flying paragliders was a time of complete distraction for me from all worldly concerns. My story, my past, my fears and my shame, my guilt ceased to exist during those intense moments of focus and exhilaration while flying a fabric wing that folds up into the size of a large backpack, thousands of feet above the earth.
When my life eventually unraveled and I had to face my past, my story, my shame and my guilt, I began to realize that flying was really a symbol I was chasing for the experience of connecting to The Uni-verse, unconditional love and joy and to feel free, exhilarated and unburdened.
So I have committed to living the “experience” of connecting to The Uni-verse, having unconditional love and joy and to feeling free, exhilarated and unburdened and not seek out just the symbol of that “experience.”
This is one of the reasons why I spend hours every day writing this blog and sharing it with you. It’s my commitment to me and The Uni-verse to anchor myself daily into the “experience” that I chased in the “symbol” of flight.
So where in your life are you chasing a symbol rather than living the experience?
It is the will of The Uni-verse that you live your experience and purpose with passion!
This is not the dress rehearsal!
This is your life! Go for it!
Much Love & Welcome Home.
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Ryf Van Rij is a coach and creator of “The Daily Way Home.” He has also been an Actor, a Commercial Pilot, a Business Co-Owner and an Events Coordinator at a Major City Art Gallery.