If there is one thing that you can say about me, it´s that I have mastered the art of contradiction. By nature, I am rather careful, calculating – the kind of person that double-checks the road before crossing and tentatively weighs the ambiance at a social gathering before engaging with anyone. But I am also the complete opposite of that.
I am the person that takes risks others would perhaps decline. The risk of transitioning without assistance as is required per the protocol. The risk of learning how to skydive with a static line, rather than tandem jump. Doing things that perhaps only fools would, trusting fate as they do, just hoping that it will somehow work out.
This year, I am taking that leap again. And just like that static line jump, internally, parts of me are swearing at me for doing so. They warn me – what if you run out of money? What if you chicken out and quit again? What if you can´t do it? Fear runs through me like a torrent of ice-cold water, trying to stop me in my tracks.
But I can hear them call. The blue skies above. Oh, they are cruel, they don´t care about my sensible thoughts, about my hesitations. They want play, they want to seduce me with their beautiful light and their infinite horizon. Come on Rowan, don´t be stupid – they call. Come face your worst fears up here in the sky.
So upwards I go. To face the crippling angst that I am not good enough. To challenge my own obsolete, ingrained, and false convictions about my own abilities – and betray them without mercy. To teach myself that I can overcome. Whereas last time, I quit flying because of my gender crisis – this time I am flying to get in touch with myself.
One day after I wrote this, I learned that Matt Wright – who was a big inspiration for me as a prospective glider pilot – passed away. He was killed in December 2016 during a winch launch, on the same day as another fatal glider accident. Matt, better known as “Balleka”, made incredible YouTube videos that captured flight at its best.
Matt will continue to inspire me and many, many other sky-pirates for years to come. I have included one of his wonderful videos for those who would like to experience the marvel of thermal flight.
Photo from my own archive.