Issue 31: Soul Flying

Have ever had the hair on the back of your neck stand on end watching someone fly, particularly their ballet? Well, today I’m writing about that experience from both the flier’s standpoint as well as the general spectator… Granted, these are perspectives drawn from my own unique experiences, observations, and philosophies.

I could never tire of re-telling this story, so profoundly did it impact the direction of my life. In October of 1990 I attended my first major competition, the AKA Grand Nationals in Seaside OR… Having only started flying that August, I was aghast at the range of styles and passion I saw demonstrated by the masters competitors… Two in particular filled me trembling awe, Scott Aughenbaugh and Miguel Rodriguez.

With “death defying” groundwork and cutting edge tricks for that era, their routines moved me to become a part of what I saw… Years later, I realized they were flying with soul and not just the best kite or tricks.

Have you ever sang a song you that moved so much you screwed up your face like rock star belting out a rockin’ chorus? That’s soul… Regardless of whether you fly in Novice or Masters class. These expressions will always strike spectators differently however as each of us feel in our own, unique way.

I even notice a difference in such qualities between leisure flying and flying in competition… When flying for fun, there is a much more silent effect, deep inside me… Like calm over a lake, you just fade into the little details of flight and your environment, like admiring and losing yourself in a sublime painting.

When soul strikes me during competition or even demonstrations, the effect has a more invigorating sense of an enhanced ability beyond my normal limits and the empathy of the feeling you’re sharing directly with the audience, as well as the feedback it generates (both audibly and in energy form).

Now, to me the paragon of soul flying is when someone flies SINCERELY and they forget themselves, by being themselves… Kind of like dancing until you’re not self conscious anymore and you just let it all hang out, so to speak.

Having experienced this state of Satori equally both on and off the competition field, I’d say that for me the experience truly does come from within an unbridled portion of myself where conscious thought and ego concede to the miraculous… The impossible becomes that much more tempting and possible.

You can often spot someone who is flying from the soul because their body begins to move more naturally, more comfortably… They might go on tiptoe, appear lighter or move as if they’re doing some sort of dance, perhaps resembling a matador at times.

I recall flying a particular maneuver with team Captain Eddie’s in 1997 that we called “balls” because of the close quarters and fast calls… As we’d lead into the move we’d all get this swagger going, like we were about to start banging our heads and playing air guitar, so much did we enjoy each other’s company and trusted one another’s abilities… Team flying is so picturesque you can’t help but be mesmerized anyway!

Again, some of my truly best times flying are in front of good size crowds as I can literally feel their collective interest fueling my flight, carrying me on a wave above, beyond and where I thought my limits lie… Plus, simply sharing something that has so deeply enhanced my life, how could it not invigorate and inspire me?

For me kite flying is also very spiritual, providing a place where no creed, belief, or affiliation is required to be a part of the spirit of kiting… Where the day to day thoughts, concerns and ongoing battle with our minds can instead be replaced with the wind, sand or grass, and rhythm of the sky can wash over you… What better place to visit the church of your heart but in that sublime experience?

Can you facilitate this process directly? Yes! By being yourself above all else, and romancing your soul by assuring yourself that you are as comfortable as possible… Some ideas:

  • Bring your favorite and most moving music.
  • Wear your comfy shoes.
  • Turn off the cell phone.
  • Hide your watch for a spell.

Now I’m not saying to go overboard, just remember to take care of you as we are often afforded little to no time to consciously thank and offer empathy to ourselves with daily pressures from “real life”, for having to do so much each day.

Another effect seems to be on our kite addiction itself… Not only does each venture out to the field expand one’s abilities, but also an enhanced appreciation of the differences between all the kites that are out there today… I know all too often I’ve had a great day flying, perhaps even having borrowed someone’s kite and bonded with it… Then turned around and got one right away because it just spoke to me.

Like I said, this hits everyone differently… Even what soul flying means is up to you, I simply felt moved to share my own perspective with those of you that might stop to read.

Sincerely yours,

John Barresi

If you would like to share your own experiences with soul flying, please visit the Kitelife Forum!