The acclaimed author of Fire in the Belly
presents an exhilarating memoir of his late-blooming love affair with the flying trapeze--and a provocative look at the potential it offers for growth and transformation.
Since he first experienced the joy and freedom of flight while swinging from trees as a boy in Alabama and Tennessee, Sam Keen dreamed of being able to fly. But it was only when, at age sixty-one, he happened upon a trapeze training program at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts that he took up the quest in earnest. After ascending to the platform thirty-one feet in the air and grasping the trapeze bar, Keen dove into the ocean of emptiness above the net, lost in the pleasure of swinging. Returning to the trapeze again and again, he gradually developed the poise and confidence that allowed him to release himself from the bar and soar--airborne--into the hands of a catcher. Having tasted the elation of actual flight, Keen's childhood dream became a passion and a vehicle for exploring the challenges and dilemmas of life.
In Learning to Fly
, Keen traces the life journey that led him to respond to the lure of the trapeze late in his life and shares what his five years of intensive practice have taught him about living more intensely and passionately. He also recounts how his recognition of this art form's transcendent powers led him to launch Upward Bound, a trapeze workshop for anyone facing deeply rooted fears.
An unprecedented adventure of the soul and psyche, Learning to Fly
teaches us to soar on the wings of possibility as we watch Keen and his students progress through breathtaking exercises. As he describes take-offs and knee hangs and thrilling mid-air catches, Keen imparts moving revelations about risk-taking, trust, bravado, true strength, falling, and letting go. Guiding us on a remarkable inner journey through the "circus of the mind," Learning to Fly
reveals the grace of ascending in body and spirit--and living with levity.
A film documentary of Learning to Fly
is also available on video, produced by Quest Productions based in Berkeley, CA.
"Sam Keen is one of our liveliest minds. It's a joy to go with him as a guide to the byways of the soul in the search for greater meaning in life."
--Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
"[Keen uses] flying trapeze as a channel for enlightenment."
--The New York Times
"Like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Learning to Fly is both concrete and metaphorical and, as usual, Sam Keen is honest, thoughtful, wry, and inspired. In this book, flying is a metaphor for risk, transcendence, overcoming the boundaries of the self, and ecstasy. And yet, the writing isn't so lofty that we earthbound mortals can't learn from it. Read Learning to Fly and soar."
--Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other
"The topic of flying trapeze promises dramatic reading, but in the hands of literary maestro Sam Keen it becomes a school for living. Combining sixty-plus years of wisdom with the passion, honesty, and enthusiasm of a beginning flyer, Keen conveys how Learning to Fly provides a path to timeless adventure and newfound joy. Whether or not you plan to take up the trapeze, you can learn to fly."
--Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Everyday Enlightenment
"With the same derring-do that Sam Keen has approached philosophy, religious studies, and his whole life, Keen offers a passionate view of the freedom from stagnating fears which can be attained by leaping toward the strong and outstretched hands of one's deepest desires. Sam Keen is a man with an examined life, one of leaping, catching, and landing with both humor and verve."
--Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D., author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, The Gift of Story, and The Faithful Gardener
"An adventure of the soul and psyche. . . . Not only is it tremendous that Sam Keen managed to fulfill his dream at the age of sixty-one, but it is wonderful that he has had the opportunity to write about his experiences for others to share and learn from."
--Sarah, Duchess of York