"Permission to Fly" Inspires Exactly That

"Permission to Fly" Inspires Exactly That

To know Layng Martine Jr. is to love Layng Martine Jr. But to get to know Layng through reading this book...is to love him even more. I can personally attest to that. 

Cat’s out of the bag: I know the author of this book, the aforementioned Layng Martine Jr. A friend of my parents for as long as I can remember, Layng has watched me grow up, has spent Thanksgiving with our family, and has always been one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.

So sure, my relationship with the author might lead to a bit of bias, but as a woman on the brink of turning 30, in the fever pitch of my career, filled with dreams, and aspirations, and a whole lot of uncertainty about how to make it all well, work, this book came to me at exactly the right time.

Permission to Fly; A Memoir of Love, Crushing Loss, and Triumph by Layng Martine Jr. tells the story of a bright-eyed young boy who, thanks to both the independence afforded him by his lassiez faire parents and an unconstrained, adventure-filled youth, grows to be a man filled with wild dreams and a laser focus: to become a songwriter.

Self-professed to be more of an impressive person than an impressive student throughout his schooling, it wasn’t until his senior year at Columbia University that Layng came to the realization that the corporate world — the world to which his father belonged; the world towards which his friends were aiming; and the world in which he always assumed he would someday earn a living — wasn’t for him.

My friends were all enthused about interviews they’d lined up, places they’d been interning over the summer. American Can Company. Merrill Lynch. Burlington Mills. Just the sound of those words scared me to death. But, to my friends, those same words sounded exciting. What would I be excited to do? As “Abilene” came out of the radio that day, I thought, “That is so good. I wonder if I could write a song?” Quickly I said, “Yeah! YES! You can. Do it!” I have no idea where that came from. I had never in my life thought of writing a song. 

But as one might imagine, the road to success in the music industry wasn’t by any means clear cut or straightforward. Armed with endless curiosity, profound determination, the fervent support and favor of his family and friends, and a fantastic sense of humor all the while, Layng describes, in crystal clear detail, some of the most pivotal stories of his life. From outrageous tales that somehow still feel familiar, to unconscionable heartbreak and tragedy, Permission to Fly takes readers on a roller coaster of stories and emotions parallel to those of a life well-lived.

Maybe it was the permission he was given as a kid to be self-sufficient - to go out and find a job, either via selling fuzzy womens house slippers door-to-door, or working as [an 8 year-old] busboy in a fancy restaurant. Perhaps it was the permission he gave himself to try things on and see what worked, even if the restaurant franchise he tried to make work ultimately went down in fiery, toxic flames. Or maybe it was the permission given to him by everyone with whom he surrounded himself, to go out and chase his dream. All along the way, Layng had permission to run, jump, fall, and ultimately: fly.

Starting somewhere around age 5 Permission to Fly takes readers on a journey through the author’s entire life until present day in his 60’s, including all the highs and lows.The memoir calls to mind a popular quote from esteemed writer Hunter S. Thompson:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a Ride!”

Layng Martine Jr., a man who is known by many and loved by each of them, is the embodiment of these words. And after reading his book, it has given me the goal to embody them too; to let go of the safety net, take a big leap, and overall give myself permission to fly.

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