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Amelia Earhart pic@ Wikipedia

I don’t remember when I first heard about Amelia Earhart. I don’t remember where I was or who told me about her. All I know is that the first time I read her story I loved her. Most likely it was in the hours I spent hidden away in a corner reading from our old Lexicon Encyclopaedia series when I was little. Hiding because my mother thought I was too young to concern myself with such ‘big’ books and my only intention could be to destroy the pages and rob my older sisters of their study material.

Ah, sneaking away to read, those were the days. My mother soon understood though, after I read the whole of the book of Matthew to her on a hot Saturday afternoon from the little hand Bible they gave all new first years at my Catholic girl’s school while she bubbled her pot in the kitchen, that my intentions were to read and not to misuse the dark green hard covers of our precious Lexicon volumes.

Maybe it was in the section on planes, or maybe I was following a ‘see also’ link from reading about the Wright Brothers which we also had a book on. Either way, I found this woman in the encyclopaedia, standing on a plane that was so big you couldn’t see the head from the tail in the picture, with one leg raised as if stepping up onto it and the immensity of her bravery to manoeuvre such a giant, especially for a little girl who taught she was pretty brave for sticking her toes down a hole in the river the other day although her bigger sister wouldn’t dare, just overwhelmed me.

Meeley in 1936, the year before she disappeared and at seven (7) years old pics@ http://curiosity.discovery.com

It overwhelmed me in a strange way though. Not with the overwhelming feeling that brings doubt but it was as if all her bravery to get into that massive iron machine and soar off into the clouds just filled me up from head to toe and MY dreams suddenly didn’t seem so BIG any more, for such a little girl.

I know for a lot of little girls in this day, big dreams are not so extremely uncommon, but whether the means to achieve the dreams are better today than yesterday or not doesn’t mean that the belief in yourself that you can achieve it, is still not just as rare as it was for me then.

Amelia on Electra with husband George Putnam

Every year around this time people come back to her achievements and review the mysteries of her disappearance again and again and I remember her too, trying to find that feeling again that is so easy to find as a child but seems to be the hardest thing to grasp as an adult. The feeling of immense possibilities that flying gives you, as if you could reach and do anything within your grasp.

Now I know that it was in her honest smile with eyes that reflected the true contentment of someone who had found their life’s path and was walking it tall despite what others taught they should or should not do, that I saw what made me believe in myself. Her face that said, “women can also be like me.”

She probably didn’t think she was very glamorous like the women of her day aspired to be. She probably thought she was just ‘Meeley’, doing what she loved with her red Vega. Did she know the generations of women that she would inspire to soar despite the heights or turbulence of the skies? Her efforts even opened the way for other races, who were traditionally also banned from certain sports and jobs, to find their voice and achieve their goals as well.

It’s strange how people can inspire others by just being themselves and living their dreams. It’s like the last part in that quote by Marianne Williamson.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

That must be what I felt as a little girl while thumbing through the encyclopaedia. Liberation! To let my light shine throughout the world. Thank you Amelia!

My favourite picture of her. Leather jacket, wind swept hair and a stare that barely hides the anticipation to hit the clouds. A true pilot, ready to take on the skies!

Notes: Amelia – name meaning, – (Germanic) “work”, ‘labour’, ‘strive’, – (Hebrew) ‘work of the Lord’.

– Written by Travesaou

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