Building your wings

When I happened upon this picture of Chelsey,  it reminded me of a quote,  attributed to author Ray Bradbury:

Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.


Though purely figurative, his  insight is meant as an exhortation, a call to arms.  Errr, wings.

For living at risk represents choice.

To choose to be bold and decide to happen to things, rather than complacently waiting for “things” to happen to you.

To choose to go all in, with both feet, and live, not be content to simply exist.

To choose to put all of “yourself” out there, fully exposed and vulnerable.

As one guided by her own rhyme and reason, Chelsey Knuth embodies this spirit of living at risk. In her own time, she is becoming a master at building them on the way down.

And pink looks to be her color.

If you make it your practice to live at risk and  “jump off” some of life’s cliffs on a regular basis,  learning  to build your wings on the way down becomes second nature.

True, the living, jumping and the building will serve you well.  But it isn’t an exercise intended exclusively for your benefit.  In a larger sense, the wisdom earned and faith learned helps you lead others to safely choose to live their lives “at risk” too.

For as you gain mastery in building your own wings, many will seek your guidance on building theirs.  They will be drawn to your character and courage.

They will see you not only as a source of strength.

But for the balance you help bring.


Just like Chelsey.

As a member of the  Badgerland Show ski Team, the Homestead Band and Symphony Orchestra, Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt and the National Honor Society, Chelsey was always there to support, hit the note, take the step and forge the path academically.

While these teams have been very important to her throughout the years, I imagine one has held sway over all others.


Each year,  some of the best and brightest  high school scholars in our community represents the storied Highlander academic tradition at Forensics meets throughout southeast Wisconsin .


This season, a core of  these seniors led the team to a fifth place finish in the state tournament.

To aspire to be a “forensicist” (copyright Coach Hahn:) is the very epitome of choosing to live at risk.

Jumping off cliffs all of the time.

No net.

Having to build those wings over and over.

Each week.

And Chelsey and her teammates are as committed to this pursuit  as any athlete in any sport.  Dedicating yourself to actively live a life of learning means there can be no offseason. That muscle between your ears never gets a moment’s rest.

There are as many life long friendships born of this pursuit as any you will find on any field, court or rink.

They too have become “as one”.

And just consider what Chelsey and this team willingly choose to do.

With great passion, courage and conviction, they routinely leap from quite possibly the most feared “cliff” of all for over 90% of the population; choosing to speak in public.

Exposing their thoughts and words while revealing themselves for all to hear, see and critique.

Putting it all out there.

Definitely not for the squeamish.

Not one to miss her opportunity to jump, Miss Knuth held true to form and set her sights a little higher.

She leapt once again and qualified for national competition.

Representing all of us in one of the most challenging  pursuits as a forensicist©: poetry.

To be a poet isn’t an easy thing.

In some respects it represents equal parts gift and adversity.

A gift in the sense that you are blessed with a talent to connect to and move others. Adversity in that in order to connect and move others, there might be a personal toll to be paid.

Even more cliffs.

A poet seeks a way to make the one thing that resonates within them,  resonate in others.

To author a melody of shared struggles, triumphs and awakenings that others will hear.

In creation of the ultimate human harmony.

Solely through the words one assembles.

No videos or j-pegs, athletics or performance, music or dance.

Just you.

Talk about  living at risk.

Chelsey makes it all look so easy, doesn’t she?

Always jumping off.

Knowing she can build her wings.



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