This I Believe

E. - Blaine, Minnesota
Entered on May 14, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe the happiest people are like kites.

I used to build kites as a hobby and I even sold them for awhile. Not to make money but more as an excuse to make more kites. That way I could improve my skills and maybe make a few bucks to buy supplies for my own kites.

For a kite to fly well, it needs a balance in both materials and design. The frame should be flexible enough to bend and survive a strong gust, but have enough substance to hold the sail open for lift. The shape should allow the kite to constantly adjust itself to the wind, so it always returns to a steady position. And most important, a kite needs to travel light like a backpacker does; there is no allowance for waste in a kite so everything must contribute.

To meet this balance the designer must be ruthlessly efficient, but it’s still possible to create something of strength and beauty and personality. By honing the elements of a kite down to the essentials, but taking care to integrate them with elegance and grace, you can make something simple and wonderful.

Most kitebuilders I’ve known are very fond of the T-LAR system. T-L-A-R is an acronym for That Looks About Right. It means you work precisely and use whatever measurements and plans you need, but in the end you make your decisions based on your own best judgement.

I believe people would find greater happiness and contentment by applying that same method to how they live their lives. If we each use our own judgement to identify what is most important in our lives, and then let go of everything else, we free ourselves.

I love meeting people who have found satisfaction in truly being themselves. These people are often a little bit odd, but they are completely sincere. And that sincerity shines from them and lights them up like the sun behind a kite.

Pick up a kite and you can see exactly what it’s made of and how it’s put together, because there is nothing phony or hidden in a kite. But that doesn’t in any way diminish the marvel of a kite dancing just out of reach in a gentle breeze, strong but flexible and always returning to a steady balance.