Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Legend Is Born

If people lived forever, Amelia Earhart would be celebrating her 115th birthday today. As it turns out, she will be forever 39. Her life was filled with adventure and accomplishment, and her death is surrounded by mystery and speculation; this is the stuff legends are made of my friends.

Rabbit trail:  this reminds me of “The Hero’s Journey,” a cycle developed by Joseph Campbell that he says explains a pattern found in heroes of mythology. (He called it monomyth.) The hero starts out in the “ordinary world,” receiving a call to adventure in the supernatural world. Here he continues alone, or is met by a “supernatural aid” of some kind, who assists him with a “severe challenge”. If he survives he receives a special gift, and must choose whether to return to the “ordinary,” where this gift may be used to improve the world. Campbell actually identified 17 steps, though not every myth contains all of them. [End rabbit trail.]

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator and author who pioneered many firsts for women in the world of aviation. She received awards from several countries for solo flights across the Atlantic and the continental United States, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. She is believed to have died, along with co-pilot Fred Noonan, when her plane disappeared about 1,700 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu on July 2, 1937, on the final leg of a circumnavigational trip around the Earth.

The uncertainty surrounding her death always seems to overshadow the  great things she accomplished with her life. She was a daughter, sister, wife, and step-mother of two. She was a nurse in Toronto during World War I and the first President-elect of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of female pilots. She was instrumental in the separation of men’s and women’s aviation records, and flew in several races in the U.S. (She took third place in her first race because she stopped to help a friend.)

Interesting fact:  Amelia Earhart married George P. Putnam after he divorced Dorothy Binney, whose father’s company Binney & Smith invented Crayola crayons. No kidding! (Just for the record, I had no idea this connection existed when I decided to write about crayons OR Amelia Earhart)

One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Rich Mullins, once said that “If my life is motivated by an ambition to leave a legacy, what I would probably leave is a legacy of ambition. But, if my life is motivated by the power of God’s Spirit in me and the awareness of the indwelling Christ, if I allow His presence to guide my motives, that’s the only time I think we really leave a great legacy.” And he did. Amelia Earhart left a legacy of courage and strength. What will yours be?

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