Life is a Kite Ride

Some people say that life is like a roller coaster ride, but I don’t agree.

I believe that life is more like a kite ride.

A roller coaster is a fixed structure – man-made – where all variables have been taken into consideration. The track is set and when you get on, you expect to get off safely, precisely because it has been engineered to have a fair and happy ending. On a roller coaster, you can see and forecast the ups and downs, and you prepare yourself for what will happen next based on this visibility of the entire ride. You don’t fear the up as it’s just what you need to do to get to the down, and the down is when you shriek with excitement and get the thrill of the ride. And then, when the ride is over, you run around to the back of the line to go again – to ride a second time with the expectation that the next round will be identical to the last. Fun, yes … but safe.

This is not what life is like at all. At least not life based on my experiences.

Life is a kite ride.

There is nothing predictable or stable about a kite flying. If the conditions are not correct, you don’t even get a chance to fly, and when the kite is in the sky, you never know what will happen next. Environment and circumstance have a vote in the outcome, as one minute you are riding the wind up, and the next minute you are crashing toward the ground at full speed. The stronger the wind against you, the faster and higher you go. You feel totally free, but you are not completely free as the flight depends on how much line you dare to let out and the fact that you are connected to the ground – physics demanding that you stay connected to the earth in order to fly.  You experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and often it appears there is nothing in the middle. When the wind is strongest, there is no time to take a breath, no time to rest, because you don’t know what is coming next.

And when we are headed to a low, when we are tightening the rope between the ground and the kite, when we feel as if all is lost, right at the last minute, a small gust of benevolent turbulence comes to the rescue, and the next thing we know, we are on our way up faster than ever before.

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that! Let’s go! What a rush!

It’s pure and utter chaos. There is no track, no directional assurance, and no promise of a fair, happy or safe ending. The ups and downs are equally powerful, but in such different ways, and we don’t know how long each up or down will last. So, we attempt to prepare for a change in momentum at any time, then realize it’s so unpredictable that we can’t prepare at all, and we decide just to let it all happen.

We go with the flow and for a brief period, we feel a sense of calm. A sense of control. A sense of freedom. Then the winds start up again.

Sometimes the kite just hovers in one place as if it’s waiting for an external cue or trying to decide where to go next. Every movement or non-movement of the kite is a learning experience, and every time it takes on a crusade or maneuver we don’t expect, we marvel and worry all at the same time.

We feel alive with excitement and then absolutely terrified in an instant of change, and if the kite does come crashing to the ground, you just stare at it, in  silence, from a distance. We reflect, we learn, we take wonder in all things. We think deeply about our life.

Where have we been?  Where are we now?  Where are we going?

Then we run up to the kite; we look down to see if it’s OK. We pick it up. Did it survive the crash? Will it fly again? Should I fly it again even if it is able or was that crash simply too much? What can I learn from this experience so I can fly better next time? What if I crash again? What should I do?

What a ride!

Yes, life is no roller coaster.

Life is a kite ride.