Soaring with the Eagles

A few days ago I stood on Blue Grouse Mountain with three friends and prepared to launch my paraglider. It was one of those perfect days when cycles of thermals were blowing up the face of the mountain and several gaggles of eagles were circling calmly in pockets of warm rising air. After doing a pre-flight examination of my wing, which had been sitting in my garage during the winter months, I flipped on my vario and prepared to launch.

I blew my first launch because I was rusty and did everything wrong including jumping into my harness before becoming airborne. I had to abort my first attempt, which is always embarrassing in front of your buddies who are all veterans of the sport. There’s a bond among pilots that is very strong and when a veteran blows a launch, he has to listen to a bunch of condescending remarks because nobody like to criticize other paraglide pilots. Never mind that I did everything wrong, I had to listen to my pals tell me why it wasn’t my fault. I knew better.

The next launch attempt was picture perfect and I caught a nice thermal out front and began a slow climb. That’s when I discovered that the batteries in my vario were burned out. I couldn’t believe it. A vario is a small device which emits a digital beeping noise as you begin to gain altitude in a flying machine. Paragliders fly so slowly and thermals are often so mild that you often don’t know you’re climbing until the vario alerts you. Once alerted, you can begin a turn which allows you to do 360s in the center of the rising air and gain a lot of altitude. We call that “coring a thermal.” I knew my vario wasn’t working because the thermal I entered was powerful and I was gaining altitude rapidly without the customary beeping sound.

I didn’t own a vario my first year of paragliding so in order to gain altitude in thermals I had to look for circling birds. Once underneath them, I could rise. I’d forgotten all that because for nearly a decade I had depended on my little vario to guide me. Somewhere along the way an expert pilot convinced me to purchase a digital vario and it was a definite advantage…I thought. Anyway, back to last week.

As soon as I was dumped out of that first thermal, absent my vario, I instinctively began looking for circling birds. It didn’t take long to spot four eagles and head for their thermal. As soon as I got there, I began to rise silently in the same warm air. Within five minutes I was soaring nearly even with the bald eagles, something I hadn’t done in years. With a vario, finding thermals is easy. One does not need birds to ascend. Then two things occurred to me that I hadn’t considered for many years. First, the absence of digital noise was marvelous. Second, soaring with bald eagles is much more pleasing than flying alone.

It was a wonderful day and I remained aloft nearly as long as I would have if my vario had been working. But when I got home, I made an important decision. I decided to remove my vario from my harness and never use it again.

Sometimes in life, serenity trumps efficiency. I suppose that’s why years ago I decided to avoid the use of cell phones and text messaging in Network marketing. It wasn’t that I doubted their speed and efficiency so much as the fact that I like the process of human bonding and face-to-face dialogue. Network Marketing, like paraglidng, is about seeking out and soaring with the eagles, not listening for ringers. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the digital interruptions of noisy technology, but serenity is my goal…and I definitely am achieving that.

Given the clarity of hindsight, it’s difficult for me to imagine how I could have traded the magic of paragliding with hawks and eagles for the noise of a digital vario. But recently I saw a nice couple in a fine restaurant talking on cell phones and paying absolutely no attention to each other and it made sense.

A luxury once enjoyed soon becomes a necessity. Sometimes we need to experience life as it was before technology to fully appreciate the serenity always available to us with the simple flip of a switch or the serendipity of burned out batteries. Soaring with the eagles in real life or MLM requires skill and experience. Sometimes technology just gets in the way.

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