Up in the Air

Published October 2020, Mindful Planner

Amidst our dipping lows and soaring highs, there is balance and beauty.

Ripples of white tore through sun-bleached sky. A plane. Who knew its destination. It looked like a rocket, ready to go anywhere, so promising was its sharp smoky path. 

I watched Joe hop-step across windblown sand, holding two strings that led to the red and yellow and green kite that hung in the heavens, dancing against the line of the plane’s smoky tendrils. As I gazed at the ocean landscape, the crisp salt air spurring memories of childhood, I felt a meditative peace wash over me. This is what I’ve needed. Lately, I’ve had so much mental and physical stimulation, that I haven’t stopped to truly rest my mind. I’d forgotten that in order to grow, all I need is a little water, a little sun, and a lot more balance. 

I took a deeper breath. The kite waved and sparkled against sunlight. Joe held the levers out to me. ‘Here. Your turn.’ I smiled and took hold gingerly – no, I can’t – but he guided my shy hands. ‘Just keep pulling down. Left, then right, then left, then right. One. Two. One. Two.’ 

The gentle repetition soothed me. I felt the strings wrapping tight against my fingers. I giggled as the wind flipped my hair. 

I felt like the kite, fluttering between states of change, highs and lows, good and bad. My whole being surrendered. I was in control, but this felt… different. This wasn’t about discipline; this was more like finding inner freedom. 

Lately, I’d been pulled about by the thrill of too many short-term highs. Elevated, out of balance, dangerously out of control – then plummeting like a jet plane fast out of fuel. 

I never expected that learning to fly a kite would be one of the most meaningful lessons I’d ever learn. My smile wrapped my face ear to ear; my breathing slowed. I likened this artful new venture to mastering a musical instrument, or painting oil on canvas: routine and rhythm, rise and fall, crescendo and colour. The unmistakeable pursuit of peace. 

Joe taught me how to move the strings to get the most out of the experience. Soon I was making figure eights, and I grasped tight, giggling. The wind circled like a stalwart opponent, brawny and unyielding, and I didn’t want to lose the kite. It’s all about stability. 

As we watched the kite rise and fall, we chatted about the precarious balance of life. We need to allow the lows, in order to reach the highs. But we also realised that the higher you rise, the greater the falls would inevitably be. But that’s precisely how the kite stays in the sky. It doesn’t just hover in one place: it cruises up and down, side to side, in order to keep its spectacular motion and height. 

We try so hard to stay high in the sky, transfixed, convinced that success can only be found when we burn bright like the sun. To fall is to fail. But we forget that the lows are what define our highs. The lows help us appreciate the colours in the sky, the nurturing warmth of the sun, and the vibrancy of the smiles that people shine at us each day. The small moments, embers of kindness, that bring light to our lives. 

As Joe beamed at me, I felt all of it coming together – the mysteries of life, the science of nature, the philosophy of freedom. With his attention elsewhere, the kite veered out of control, flipped a few times, and careened into the sand. He shrugged and smiled again as he gathered up the kite, telling me a saying that his mother taught him. ‘To try is not to always achieve. But all those who have achieved, tried.’ 

We walked home, smiling, silent, watching the jet plane searing through the sky, leaving one more ripple of smoky promise as the light began to fade. 

Words by Rose Mascaro 

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Rose Mascaro is a writer, editor and teacher who is passionate about teaching others how to build a life of creative bliss. A published writer, and the 2020 editor of Teen Breathe magazine Australia, she has a Master of Arts in creative writing.