When the Wright brothers achieved the first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, NC, on Dec. 17, 1903, they likely had no idea how much the world would change as a result of that single event. The flight lasted only 12 seconds and distanced only 120 feet (shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 747), but it marked a milestone in human history. In that one instant, humanity recognized that powered flight was real and we were no longer bound to the earth.
Each of us has our own “Kitty Hawk moment” — a term used to describe an event or experience that previously seemed impossible, but is now a reality. Do you remember the first time you typed on a personal computer, used a fax machine, or surfed the Internet? Where were you the day a man walked on the moon? Did you watch the celebration of President Obama’s election? In each of those moments, what was once a dream became reality.
Kitty Hawk moments do not need to be cosmic or world shaking. They can be a simple “aha” that opens you to a new possibility. I remember visiting the Kripalu Yoga Center and noticing that their auto mechanics garage was spotless. That vision dissolved my belief that garages are oily and messy. From that point on my garage became cleaner.
As you strive for greater success and happiness, you may experience a Kitty Hawk moment that does not sustain. You may meet someone you love, but that person is not available to be your partner. You may feel healthy for a while after long chronic pain, or happy after being depressed. You may write a piece of music or create a new painting that gets your juices flowing like none before it, yet after that moment you slip back into a sense of uncreative mediocrity. At that point you may feel discouraged because you tasted well-being or greatness for a flash, and then it dissolved.
But the Wright brothers did not wring their hands and give up because their flight was so short. Instead they celebrated piercing the veil of impossibility to let a crack of light into human consciousness. It would only be a matter of time until jetliners cruised the atmosphere at 600 miles per hour, carrying 500 passengers halfway around the globe in 12 hours. The first moment was not ultimate, but it was pivotal.
What your mind can conceive, you can achieve. The very fact that you have an idea means that it is possible. On some level, the idea is already a reality. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions,” meaning that there are infinite possible realities, all of which exist simultaneously. When you have a clear vision, or a Kitty Hawk moment, you have found the key to the room you wish to enter. Keep turning it, and you shall gain entrÃ©e.
Let’s play with the quantum mechanics of Kitty Hawk moments. In your mind, fast forward to realities you would like to see come about, as if they are already done. Do you remember the day you turned on the television and heard the thrilling news that a cure for cancer had been found? Where were you when UNESCO made the announcement that every child on earth was being fed a healthy diet? What did you feel when you learned that the national budget for education exceeded military expenditures? How did you celebrate when the last war on the planet came to a truce?
While some or all of these ideas may now loom as fantasies or far-remote possibilities, one day they will be so. Air flight, television, an African-American president, and a mobile phone for nearly everyone on the planet once seemed just as chimerical. Yet, now we take all of these one-time dreams for granted.
While visionaries are often scoffed at, they are the magi who move the world forward. A visionary is a time traveler who casts his or her mind forward and accepts ideas as done as soon as they are conceived. Then it is only a matter of closing the gap between belief and manifestation.
One of my favorite bumper stickers proclaims: Reality is for people who can’t handle imagination. Imagination is not separate from reality; it is the beginning of it. All belief systems (initials B.S.) give way to broader belief systems. No belief system is ultimate or final. For every belief system you can think of, there is a greater one. Never argue for your belief system when confronted with a broader one. Stephen Wright declared, “A conclusion is where you got tired of thinking.” Sir James Jeans said it this way: “Science should give up on making pronouncements. The river of truth has often turned back upon itself.”
Life is a series of Kitty Hawk moments that lead us from good to better to best, and beyond. They are the moments when earth no longer contains us and the heavens become our new playground. May you have many.
Copyright 2011 Alan Cohen. All rights reserved.