It started in college, responsible only to myself, away from home, with some idle time.
I remember vividly flipping through the phone book yellow pages and seeing a half-page ad for a “discovery flight”– one hour of flight instruction at a discounted rate at the local airport.
I remember looking at the image of the airplane, my heart beating faster with the thought of making the call, hesitating — and getting back into the comfortable routines of my studies to become an elementary teacher.
I really don’t know why I had a yearning to learn how to fly. But the seed of curiosity had been planted somewhere deep inside me. I kept hearing the faint buzz of passing aircraft, noticing, wondering, thinking, dreaming.
Then I just did it. I made the call, not knowing what I was really doing — and ended up touring the airport and meeting my flight instructor. I don’t think the Beltrami County Airport staff was expecting a 19-year-old, female, preservice kindergarten teacher to walk in on that fall afternoon and sign up for flight school. I really don’t know if I was expecting it either. But I did, and I went home with a student pilot kit, a logbook, ground school books, and a bill.
Somehow I did it. With eager enthusiasm. I continued my education studies: writing lesson plans and making flight plans; student teaching while also studying air cooled engines and airplane electrical systems.
Learning to Teach, and Loving to Learn
Then, I was signed off to solo. Just a couple of weeks past my initial visit to the airport I was flying an airplane by myself….and more impressively, landing it.
My peers in my education classes really did not understand the excitement I expressed when I started to understand how a carburetor worked. My flight instructors did not truly understand why I was not drawn to the vocation of commercial aviation, where, I was told, a young female pilot with the right training and desire could be on the path for a six-digit yearly income.
I knew deep down I had a calling to teach, but even deeper was this desire to learn, to really understand and experience life through active engagement and inquiry. For me, my experiences learning to fly granted me some unique perspectives.
Experiencing flight as pilot in command has taught me respect for nature and our planet; for weather, our atmosphere; and our humanness relative to human error and capability. I was able to transfer the information that I was taught and that I processed through reading and apply it practically to fly, land, and travel in a small airplane. I have a frame of reference and set of experiences that can never be taken away from me, even now almost ten years past my last independent flight.
I am in a new chapter now, with my husband, James, and four children by my side.
Together, our responsibilities have multiplied. Now each decision, desire, and action have far greater impact beyond the scope of our individual selves. We are crafting a life together. Raising children, giving, working constantly to balance our own needs with the needs of others. Creating our own path and thoughtfully, purposefully, taking each day as it comes. Constantly striving to move forward, deepening our experience.
Though it can be exhausting and even overwhelming, for us there is no turning back. Fresh eggs, homegrown meat, and a pantry full of garden produce nourishes our existence. Chopping wood, hunting, crafting soaps, reading, writing, strumming on a guitar, and spending time in the wilderness are rhythms on which our family thrives.
I continue to learn and experience. Right now I am not flying solo cross-country, seeking the thrills and excitement of independence that I once sought, but rather learning and growing through experiences like butchering a chicken for the first time, installing a package of bees, or herding three full grown astray hogs with my husband.
Together, we are working to craft an enriched life — actively engaged and full of purpose, while grounded in simplicity.
We are living this dream, supporting each other, and expanding our experiences. That is feeding our souls. Taking that crucial step putting our thoughts into action, allowing us to live a life that is a bit extra-ordinary.
I am excited to see what’s next.
Megan Devine is a mother, early childhood educator, and lifelong learner. When she does not have children in tow you may find her investigating a bee hive, making soap, gardening, cross-country skiing, or looking for opportunities to make the world a better place. Megan and her husband James keep their friends and neighbors continually entertained as they craft a rich life on their ever-expanding hobby farm on the edge of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with their four children: Zoe, Otto, Wyatt, and Boden. You can visit her at her space here.