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The Old Man And The Kite

A stranger in the park caught my attention.

I was walking in my local park today. It was a warm but blustery day and the wind was kicking up the dust and dried leaves into the air, and blowing them across the park in big swirling clouds. I spent much of the walk shielding my eyes in my hands to keep the debris out.

The sky darkened and threatened rain and so I decided to cut the walk short and took a route across one of the bigger open plains, knowing it would get me back faster. As I turned into the meadow, I saw a huge blue kite swirling in the air above me, performing twists and loops and soaring high up into the sky, and then diving quickly down towards the ground, where just before what seemed to be an inevitable impact, it turned and hovered again on the wind and back up into the sky.

I followed the string down to see who was on the other end of it, controlling it with such grace and ease. I'm not sure what I expected to find, but what I did find surprised me. Holding the controls was an old man. I imagine he was in his early eighties. He was thin and frail and he looked like the wind could take him up into the air with the kite at any minute, but he held fast and stood rooted to the ground without any tension. His thinning grey hair was blowing wildly in the wind, as were his beige trousers and jacket.

He was totally lost in the moment, concentrating hard on controlling the kite. Just a flicker of either of his wrists would send the kite one way or the other, and a gentle pull back from his shoulder enabled the kite's trajectory up or down. He didn't notice me walking by, although I was only about fifty feet away. He was just at one with the kite, there was no separation. They were one thing moving together.

I walked on, but the old man stayed with me in my thoughts. His joy, his concentration, his prowess, his effortless control. I wondered what his story was. Was he alone in life? How long had he been flying kites for? Did he do it regularly or was it a once a year kind of thing?

So many questions arose in my head. I was curious to know his story. I made up several versions of his story in my mind as I walked on. But, one thought stayed with me the most.

When I am his age I can only hope that I have the passion, the dedication, the joy, the presence to do my thing, whatever that is, and to keep my kite flying high.

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