I believe in hot air balloons. At least, I believe in what hot air balloons represent in my life. Hot air balloons are a symbol of the value of new experiences and how sometimes they enrich you as a person, besides just the fact that you have overcome a fear or found something you enjoy doing that you never would have. Through my flight in a hot air balloon I was able to learn about my family and to share a new connection with my sisters, father and even my grandfather. I am deathly afraid of heights and I hate not being in control. I do not ride roller coasters and I am a horrible backseat driver. Two summers ago, my family and I were in Colorado and my dad said that we were going to take a hot air balloon ride. I assumed that it was just my family being random, as they are sometimes; I was not excited about it because I get nervous very easily. The day we were to take our ride, we got up at four in the morning. My sisters and I were exhausted so it was easy for me to forget about how scared I was. But as soon as we pulled up to the site, I began to get very nervous. I said “I’m not going, I’m not going,” as soon as I saw the balloon and basket in separate pieces. My mom said I had to go because we had already paid for it. As I stepped into the balloon I started freaking out, but as soon as we lifted off the ground I was fine. It wasn’t scary, it was beautiful and peaceful. Many people have seen the land from the air in an airplane, as I have many times, but it was a completely different experience. It wasn’t noisy and you could feel air on your face. Not to mention the fact that I was with my entire family, laughing and talking. After the ride I thought to myself about how stupid it was that I had almost allowed my silly fears to get in the way of the experience I had, and about how I had let fear stop me from doing a lot of things. On the way back, my dad, who is a very private man about his emotions, talked about my grandfather who had passed away two years prior. I rarely hear my dad speak about him since his death unless we are visiting family and they bring it up. I always loved hearing stories about him. I found out that our family excursion wasn’t some random thing my crazy family decided to do, it was important to my dad. He told us that when he was young, on Sunday mornings people would land and fly hot air balloons from the school yard behind his house. Every Sunday he and my grandpa would go watch and talk to the men. It was a really special memory he had with his father and he wanted to share it with us. By doing something with my dad that he and my grandfather had shared I felt more bonded to him as well as my grandfather. I felt that through that experience I got a little piece of my grandfather with me. I also got to spend time with my dad who works hard, which took him away from home a lot, at the same time that I was beginning to become more independent and busy. So I believe in hot air balloons, because even though I still don’t ride roller coasters, they made me less fearful of new experiences, and brought me closer to the people that I love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.