I recently became a Honorary Aeronaut. After dreaming my whole life of floating amongst the clouds in a basket carried by a colorful balloon, I finally took the plunge and went on my first hot air balloon ride.
The French are credited with the first balloon flight with humans aboard under King Louis XVI’s rule. Imagine witnessing the first ever flight from Versailles with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette! My adventure began in a different, but no less exciting, setting: a winery in southern California.
When I woke up that morning, I thought about canceling. I was completely terrified that I would feel claustrophobic in the basket. That the balloon would crash. That we wouldn’t land properly and I would break my legs. You name it, I thought of it. However, I pushed through and made myself sign the waiver and boarded the shuttle to the balloon.
The balloon was set up quickly and once I was in the basket, there was no time to change my mind and hop out. Before I knew it, we were gliding smoothly over miles of vineyards. I’ve never been able to see a cloud in front of my face before (except from inside a plane). It was a peaceful ride admiring the early morning sun-kissed landscape and the other vibrant balloons that floated around us. The trip lasted a little under an hour.
After descending and landing safely in another breathtaking vineyard, we concluded our travels with a toast. As we raised our glasses high, our pilot shared with us the Balloonist’s Prayer:
The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
that God has joined you in your laughter
and set you gently back again
into the loving arms of Mother Earth.
I left that morning feeling invigorated. Even though pursuing your dreams is scary, the journey can be beautiful and if all goes well you will be set gently down feeling proud and brave.