Do you remember the first time you flew a kite? Or how about the first time you simply stood on a windswept field? Think back hard to the day you took out that triangle or diamond shaped piece of plastic film. You carefully attached the string, and held on, waiting for that decisive moment when the wind was right and the kite was pointed up. Remember how you ran and ran to get the kite higher and higher, then holding the string as the wind pulled the kite tight. Remember that feeling of power as it took hold in the sky?
Many still remember that magical moment when the kiting bug took hold in their brains. The question most asked, though, when fliers meet, is "What do you fly?" It is a legitimate question, but it seems that it should be second. Maybe it’s because the answer to "Why do you fly?" is almost always the same. Flying equals freedom, expression, and tranquility.
One flier I spoke with, Pete Hugger (Huggs on IRC) told me that "Flying kites is like holding the hand of God." Well, that is a large part of that magic feeling. Depending on your spirituality, there may be more to that. For as long as man has existed, he has dreamed of flight. It is a natural human feeling to want to fly, and modern technology has given us this wish.........sort of. Despite an airplane’s gift of flight, it is no match for true flight. Like Daedalus and Icarus, who fashioned wings out of wax and feathers, mankind has tried for ages to bring himself the feeling of unaided flight through many different attempts. Flying is a dream that has inspired many artists and songwriters, such as Tom Petty and Pink Floyd, who both have songs titled "Learning to Fly" which can be compared to learning kiteflying or learning freedom through flight. To date, few things can bring man a feeling of unaided flight, such as hang gliding, skydiving, and kiteflying.
All of us aren’t daredevils, though, so skydiving and hang gliding are pretty much out of the picture. But ANYONE can fly a kite of some type. Flying a kite is a vicarious way of actually flying. One can almost feel himself losing their physical self and soaring with the wind in a spiritual sense. Being one with what you fly is truly a mystical experience that I am sure every kiter has experienced at least once in their flying lives.
Kite flying also brings an inner peace to many fliers. The serenity of a kite just floating on the wind, its edge flapping gently in a breeze on a nice warm day in the middle of a beach or field paints a post card picture in most peoples’ minds. The sweet thing is that this postcard, unlike most, is attainable. Kiting is a sport so diverse, anyone can get to it. Families, singles, young, and old can go out and launch a kite. The peace afforded by a kite is quite unlike any other. In a world that accelerates by orders of magnitude each day, a few moments on a windy stretch of land, by oneself or with great friends can make the stress the world disappear. By yourself, flying a kite is a quiet time to do anything you want. Soul searching, heavy thinking, or something as mundane as groovin’ out to some music or just thinking about nothing in particular can all be done while on the field watching kites going up and down. When friends are around, kiting not only lets you get to do the above mentioned, but you can do them among the best people on earth: friends. Whether they be fliers or non-fliers, the shared love of flight brings people together.
One final reason I would like to mention would be children. Anyone who loves children and flies kites can attest that children are always fascinated by flying kites. The look in their eyes is pure magic. As we grow older, we sometimes lose that magic. Our society today prizes "maturity" and "responsibility." Kites allow us to keep that innocent magic only children seem to possess: wonder. It also allows us to pass that magic onto our children, our future generation. If one kiter can show ten kids how to fly, and give them a chance to keep that magic in them, then think how many kids all of us can reach.
So, why DO we fly kites? Is it the spirituality of it? The longing to fly? Or is it the magic and camaraderie of it? Perhaps, if we dig deep enough in ourselves, I think we’ll find that it is probably a variety of reasons, some I listed and some I missed. When it comes down to it though, it really doesn’t matter to anyone but ourselves why we fly. It just matters that we do.
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