I’m convinced there are two types of people in this world. Those who can fly. And those who can’t.

Now, if you are a flier, you know exactly what I mean. You are reading this and shaking your head “yes” with a smile on your face. If you are not, you think I am crazy.

And while I very well may be, I can also fly. Or at least, I could. And while you wonder if I mean in my dreams, I guess so. But seems like a shame to limit it like that, since those dreams were reality for me. I could fly, and I did, all over the place.

I can also fly. Or at least, I couldNow there are different kinds of fliers. There are those who only rise above their beds and more float than fly, and then those who truly take off and head wherever they so please. I was that kind of flier. Would run, flap my arms around, and then breaststroke my way into the clouds above.

I miss flying. You see, I haven’t done it in a while.

I think as we grow older and life weighs us down, it is just too hard to take flight. As we lose our naiveté, we also lose that flying ability. And of all things I miss about my childhood, flying is what I miss most. Perhaps this is why for my 40th birthday, I wanted to skydive. After all, skydiving seemed the closest I was going to get to the real thing. And so, I was all set to go and do it, but there was one small glitch.

My husband was absolutely terrified of the idea.

At first I thought he was kidding, but after a few sleepless nights I realized that this plan of mine was truly traumatizing him. And so we decided we would ask our Rabbi, our spiritual mentor, for his opinion, and we were both willing to go along with what he suggested.

Bottom line was, he told me that I had the power to fly in my mind. He reiterated the teaching from the Baal Shem Tov that a person is where his or her thoughts are. While I tried pushing a bit and suggesting that I really wanted to fly in both mind and body, he insisted that I could fly with feet firmly planted on the ground.

While initially this didn’t seem to suffice in exchange of a 5,000-foot jump from a plane, we had agreed to listen, and listen we did. Needless to say, my husband was finally breathing and sleeping again once we received this response. And I then needed to figure out how to experience this flying in my mind, as my Rabbi assured me I could.

As I meditated on this idea, I started to question more why I wanted to skydive in the first place. Was it the thrill of something new? Was it the rush I would feel freefalling? Was it the flying through the air I so badly wanted to feel again? In a way, it was all of them. But in truth, the freedom and excitement and experience from the jump itself would be temporary. If I really wanted these to be part of my life, I needed to be able to fly whenever I wanted or needed to.

My husband was absolutely terrified of the ideaWhat my Rabbi was telling me, or empowering me with, was the ability to create my reality, and experience that reality, through how I chose to think about it. Flying, to me, represents being able to remove myself from what binds me or limits me. When I fly, I can see things from a different vantage point. I can see the bigger picture. I can also see my own surroundings from a new perspective.

It was certainly not coincidental that I wanted to skydive for my 40th birthday. In Ethics of Our Fathers, it teaches how each age we reach gains us new abilities. And it says that when one turns 40, one attains understanding. My lesson, my goal, needs to be to learn and understand how to experience and create what needs to be done, not always through how I act, but through how I think. I don’t need to physically jump to really fly. If anything, an actual jump could never match with the flying I experienced in my mind as a child. After all, when I used to fly, there was no parachute. It was the real deal.

How interesting that I was born the second day of the holiday of Sukkot. I was born during the holiday where we eat in the sukkah, under the stars, where we can see the sky above. And it is during Sukkot that we bring together the lulav and etrog, unifying the various parts of ourselves as well as the different aspects of society. Unity. Oneness. Mind, heart and body. Thoughts, feelings and actions. All outside. All under the sky.

So this birthday, as I turn 40, I yearn to acquire true understanding about myself, others, and the world around me. And I hope to learn to fly again and never forget how, so that whenever I so need, I can expand my wings and soar.