Well to live is to fly, all low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
— the prophet townes van zandt
I’m running into a 20 mph headwind. I remember what fun was like. It was nothing like this.
It’s a long stretch of unprotected trail along the bay. The wind just pounds away, a little wind tunnel that says, “betcha wish you’d done the treadmill now, sissy boy.” I hunker down and try various combinations of SpongeBob obscenities under my breath as I trudge along.
I hate the wind i hate the wind i hate the wind i hate the wind.
As I pass by the park, I see them. Two little girls are flying kites. They’re too young to have much luck at it, but they don’t care. The kites soar and crash. Soar and crash. The girls laugh, wind up their string, run back and forth to share kite secrets, and go at it again. Their kites have those useless little plastic tails, the kind you use till you realize the secret is a long piece of cloth with knots. Things they don’t teach you in pre-K.
The same wind I was cursing is the one that’s making them happy beyond belief. They don’t mind at all that the kites won’t fly for long. They’re flying for a while.
We go along for another mile, the wind and I. Suddenly he’s not so bad. Like a friend who tells bad jokes, but lets you know when there’s cake in the break room. I go past the beach, to the bad folk singer, and turn around.
And then, I’m flying.
There’s nothing like a 20 mph tailwind to make you remember why you love to run. I sail effortlessly through the return trip home. The girls are still there. They’re still flying, and crashing, and having fun in that way you forget is possible once you hit 10 years old or so. I envy them.
Maybe that’s the lesson. There’s joy in flying. And if it means you have to crash every now and then to get there, that’s OK. To live is to fly.
I love the wind.
But I hope I don’t get knots in my tail …