When I was a kid, my sister and I would try to make and fly kites. We carefully glued together chopsticks to form the crossbeams and attached paper to form the body. We tied our creations to our bikes and pedaled mightily with the wind, only to have our joys deflated by the bumpity bump bump of the kite sagging and bouncing along the road behind us.
Undeterred, we decided that the paper was too heavy, so being the intrepid explorers that we were, we used newspaper instead. Proudly sporting the Sunday comic section, our kites were ready to re-launch. We primed our bikes, checked our knots and off we went, flying with the wind.
We may have flown, but our kites decided otherwise. They once again sadly plummeted to earth and trailed behind us like forgotten streamers of a long-gone Fourth of July parade.
Surely, SURELY our kites must be too heavy. There could be no other explanation. With that, we fashioned more kites, this time using tissue paper as the wings. Purple, blue, pink and green, our kites were little jewels just waiting to take their place against the summer blue sky.
Hope springs eternal; well, at least for us it did. Undaunted, we set ourselves up at the launch pad, a gentle rise of the driveway. After a final check by Mission Control, we revved up our engines and thrust ourselves down the runway.
And our kites dragged forlornly behind us.
Dejected and feeling much like Charlie Brown in his kite-flying escapades, we put our kites away and turned to face the rest of the business of growing up. We did not give up hope completely; over the years we tried again and again until we outgrew our bikes and our childhood dreams.
It wasn’t until much later that it finally dawned on me that to fly a kite, you had to run against the wind.
Wow. What a revolutionary idea for me.
To launch your plane, your kite, your dream, you have to fly into the wind. That was such a novel concept to someone who had always been taught to not make waves, to fit in, to blend in and be one of the crowd.
Play it safe, play it conservative, don’t take chances. This was the mantra of my childhood. And I’ve been rebelling against it ever since.
Right now, I’m in the midst of getting another dream of mine to fly. There are some strong headwinds that want to push me down. They are coming from all directions. Some winds howl that I’m not good enough, that I don’t know enough. Other winds whisper in my ear that I will fail and I should just play it safe. Some gusts echo in my head the negative things I’ve heard. Little tornados lift my hopes, only to dash me down again. They eddy and flow around me, unseen but clamoring in my head.
But there are gentler currents as well. They are the ones that flutter around me, telling me I cannot fail, that failure is just another step towards knowledge. They rustle my confidence and breathe fresh air into stagnating hopes. They rally to my defense, tell me not to give up. They cool my raging anger at the impossibility of it all, and provide just enough of a breeze to kindle the fire. They form an invisible string that attaches to my kite and pulls it up, making it airborne.
And so I will run into the wind, because it seems that is all I know what to do. I stand on my launch pad, checking the gauges, ready to run into the wind, colorful kite in hand. Let’s fly!