Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Missionary Kid: Champion kite

By Vic Midyett

[Editor’s Note: Vic sent me this story recently with the comment:
For some reason, I got to thinking about my kite again yesterday, this time it was in light of “big or tall stature does not make you the best.”
    Tell me I shared this story with you a long time ago.
    And I happily replied: “If I told you that, I would not be telling you true.
    So here it is!
    Otherwise, the most recent of the Missionary Kid stories appeared on May 31 (“Rule Number One: Get in the house before dark”). I hope Vic keeps finding stories that he hasn’t shared with us yet.

I was about 10 years old. Every summer the kids where we were living in India bought or made kites and flew them in the summer breezes. Any given day or time you could see hundreds of kites in the air.
    The Indians did something that I haven’t heard of anywhere else. Most kite makers there also sold a string with very fine crushed glass glued onto the string. The reason for this was a game kids played where, with skill, they would wrap their kite’s string around another kid’s kite’s string, and jerk down suddenly in hopes of cutting the other kid’s string and setting his kite loose. This brought bragging rights.

    I developed really good skills teasing and dodging other kite fliers who were trying to cut my string. But most of the time I had no idea where the other flier was.
    Finally, I decided I might be skilled enough at kite flying to buy my own glass string (which cost more) and go on the offensive myself. I also bought an inconspicuous-looking little orange kite, so as not to appear a threat (it didn’t even have a tail).
    Over a week or so I became lethal, cutting other kids’ strings and causing them to lose their kites. My pride during this period grew to a high, until other kids stopped flying their kites anywhere near mine. It dawned on me that they simply couldn’t afford to buy any more kites or the glass string. I became quite sad and felt bad for them and what I had done.
    My little orange kite had lasted during the entire time. Most kites broke or tore within a couple of days. But this one stayed in great shape and seemed indestructible. It was only about a foot wide – really small – but I had managed to cut the string on kites three times its size.

One late afternoond, in the fading sunlight, I saw no other kites in the air but decided to fly mine just for the fun of it. I let it go. Up it went in the gentle breeze as pretty as you please. It flew steady and true, with total confidence and balance. I thought to myself, Wow! What a wonderful kite. I just love this kite!
    I reached the end of my 100 yards of string and watched my kite soaring gracefully in perfect conditions. I had other rolls of string and got the idea to tie more on to see how high my little kite could go. I kept tying more on until I had none left.
    My kite was so far up I could barely make it out. I lay down on the ground and looked up at it and wondered what I would do next. I had never flown a kite this high before. I imagined my little orange kite looking down at me. Then I imagined it looking around at how high it had managed to fly, and how it was able to see much farther than it had ever seen before – perhaps wondering, What lies way over there?
    Then I imagined it looking down and saying to me, “I have served you well, young master. Have I not? Would you set me free to fly wherever I would go?”
    I tried to dismiss this thought, but to no avail. A couple of tears creased my cheeks, because I knew what I had to do. I must let it go. I felt like it was a self-imposed sentence of justice for cutting so many other kids’ strings. I was still feeling terrible about that.
    As soon as I acknowledged this to myself, I felt honorable again – still sad, but feeling really good inside. I looked down at the last inches of string around my hand and slowly unwound it from my fingers. I looked up at my tiny friend, still in captivity, and I smiled.
    “See ya, buddy, and thanks so very much for the lesson. I’ll never forget you.”

Copyright © 2016 by Vic Midyett


  1. Great little sad/happy story. I remember doing that same thing as a kid.

  2. Vic, my assumption in writing the following ad for Facebook and Google+ – "Vic Midyett recounts how his little orange kite spoke to him about one of life's most valuable lessons, one everyone needs to learn in order to be free" – was that the kite returned the favor, in teaching the lesson of letting go of possessions that may be possessing us. At any rate, that's part of how I read your story. The main part, though, may have been the kite's lesson about letting go of one's own children?

  3. For me the story has many messages on very varied subjects. And you are right - one of the biggest is taking good care of training, teaching our kids, for the purpose of letting them go to become more. Preferably, in my opinion, "more then us". Thank you Morris for "getting" that. And thank you cuz.

  4. Morris, you are also right about the truly liberating need to "let go" of possessions that may be possessing us. That particular one was in fact my thoughts at that age. When Shirley and I decided to become Aussie gypsies and travel the roads, we had to "let go" of a LOT. I cannot tell the immense joy and feeling of liberation that comes with that action. Just wonderful!