“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that
we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
– John Keating (Robin Williams) in Dead Poets Society
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I’ve said it once – and I know I’ll say it again – perspective is an amazing thing. It has the power to transcend our lives. If we are unhappy with our current circumstances or living with an ungrateful heart, all it takes is a slight change of perspective to right the ship.
I received a powerful reminder of this when I crossed No. 25 off my current life list – Ride in a Hot Air Balloon.
As I floated 500 feet above Mother Earth, my perspective was literally and figuratively altered.
The ride itself was nothing short of amazing.
As soon as the basket lifts off the ground, adrenaline rushes to your brain and your breathing pattern immediately changes. All of your senses know that you’re in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
As the ground starts to get farther and farther away, the first thing you notice is the serenity. Other than the occasional “burn” from the pilot or the “hey, look at that” from one of the other passengers – it is so quite and peaceful.
As the sun kisses the horizon, you’re reminded of the power of a sunrise. The light it supplies. The heat it provides. The hope of a new day that it offers every single person.
You can see the world below you starting to wake up, but you are temporarily removed from the noise that goes along with it.
The view itself is unlike anything else. You feel like you can see forever.
The feeling of floating through the air is almost indescribable.
A lot of people asked me if it was scary. Not particularly. There was just enough “fear” to keep the endorphins steadily flowing to your brain. It was an unexpected rush.
I guess it would have been amazing to float over a mountain top or across acres and acres of undisturbed countryside, but there was something remarkable about sailing over the chaos – the housing developments, the power lines, the roadways filled with speeding cars.
Again, we were only 500 feet above the ground. That distance might not register with everyone, but it’s not over-the-top high. We could actually exchange waves with people on the ground.
One couple sat on their back porch, drinking their morning coffee. Another lady was watering her yard. There was a bike rider, a runner and a couple dog walkers.
We waved, and they all waved back.
That’s when perspective really hit me, and my attention shifted from the actual flight to the potential of Live the List.
As I stared over the edge of the basket, I started wondering about these handful of people waving at us as we floated by.
I wondered if they were living with intention;
I wondered if they were living a joyous and happy life;
I wondered if they were putting God first and others second, and
I wondered if they were they mentally adding “hot air balloon ride” to their bucket list.
Were they stuck in a rut?
Were they lost and hopeless?
Were they bored with their lives?
Were they constantly making excuses and saying ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’?
Reminder: Only one third of Americans claim to be happy and only 67 percent of the respondents in the same 2013 poll were optimistic about the future.
I wondered how many of those people fell into that tragic category. I wanted to scream from above the tree tops:
“You have permission to start living!”
Instead, I shifted my focus to the other passengers in the balloon with me – an amazing group of people who were walking the walk and living life to the fullest. While I was unsure about the people on the ground, I didn’t have a doubt in my mind about this group of people.
I knew they were living boldly.
I knew they were living with intention.
I knew they were attacking life with reckless abandon.
My small prayer: I hope the four of us are inspiring other people to go full throttle, including the handful of people waving at us from 500 feet below.
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As the balloon touched down in a freshly cut cornfield, I realized that my face hurt from smiling.
I had a smile plastered on my face, because our adventure turned into so much more than just a hot air balloon ride. It was a celebration of living the list. For a couple hours on a random Saturday in August, our life lists were the center of attention.
Not only were we accomplishing one of our goals together, we all talked about other things we had recently marked off….we shared what we wanted to cross off next…we talked about things we wanted to add to our lists.
Our goals, dreams and aspirations were in the spotlight – exactly where they’re supposed to be.
My friend Courtney, who was on the hot air balloon ride, posted this message on Instagram after our flight:
“To my friends who don’t have a life list…MAKE ONE. Why wait to start doing and experiencing incredible things during your life? This morning, I chased the sunrise on a hot air balloon ride and it was AMAZING. And bonus…I got to ride along with an inspiring group of fellow Live the List-ers. I am so blessed.”
She summed it up beautifully.