IVP - Strangely Dim - The Truth About Flying

March 5, 2004

The Truth About Flying

by David A. Zimmerman

I dream of flying, and it's the happiest dream I know. It's one of the few dreams I remember, actually, which is funny, since there's nothing much to the dream besides the flying.

Flying for me is like swimming--a matter of willing the body to push against a countercurrent. My flying is not so much an event, like Thor's spinning his hammer till it propels him through the air or Iron Man's activating his boot-jets, as it is a change of status: Once I was landlocked, but now I am airborne.

Flying in my dreams is silent, peaceful--not the ear-splitting adrenaline rush of the comics. I suspect that something in my dream compels me to be in the air, but once I'm there I'm in no hurry. I enjoy the sensation of being untethered more so than the opportunity to get where I need to be by any means necessary. I get a sense from this dream of just what control gravity has over me.

Ah, gravity, my arch-nemesis. Let me be clear that I don't wish to stop gravity; rather I wish I could control it. Gravity keeps everything around me literally grounded; it brings predictability to falling (if I drop my pencil, I know to tilt my head down rather than back--unless, of course, I'm suspended from the ceiling); I even count on gravity for, among other things, drip-brewing coffee and watering plants.

Having said all that, there's a case to be made for being outside of gravity's control. If gravity couldn't restrict my movement, I could hover wherever I felt like being or quickly remove myself from any uncomfortable situation to where no one could follow--and no one could do anything about it. I would not have to suffer the claustrophobia of too many people confined to one "two-dimensional" setting. I could be literally above the fray.

I've always dreamed of flying, I suppose. When I was a kid, I had a recurring apocalyptic fantasy in which I grew wings after being exposed to nuclear radiation. I flew around rescuing all the pretty girls in my class. When I was in college, all the characters I created in various role-playing games could fly. Interestingly enough, however, my favorite superheroes not only cannot fly but have few exceptional abilities whatsoever. Though I dream of ascending to the heights, I am inspired by people much more down to earth.

Maybe I should be concerned by that. Why am I so motivated to fly when the characters who have struck me as the most heroic do it all from the ground? My dreams of flying rarely involve acts of heroism. Heroes charge into battle, but I fly simply to escape.

Escape is one way of looking at my relation to the world, I guess. In fact, some end-times scenarios amount to pretty much just that--people flying off to heaven while everyone else experiences seven years of very bad luck. But what all my heroes would do--and what Jesus has done, for that matter--is to face such challenges head-on and use any resources available to them to deliver people from evil. If those resources include the power of flight, so be it, but we shouldn't underestimate what a person can do standing on the earth. The sky's the limit, you could say . . .

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What's your dream superpower? Post a comment.

Check out my secret identity at www.ivpress.com.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 5, 2004 8:16 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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