On July 28, I was captivated by the sight of a kite surfer leaping among the waves as his kite soared high against the setting sun. One month later, I found myself harnessed to a trainer kite, savoring the thrill of playing tug-of-war with the wind. I knew then that I’d been earthbound for too long.
Now, I’m not the world’s most athletic person, so I was rather nervous at the start. The first time I held the handle bar on my own, I was stunned by how powerfully the wind pulled at the three-meter self-launching kite. The slender strings were also deceptive; each one was strong enough to lift 300 kilos, and when I learned that, my overactive imagination immediately concocted visuals of me being lifted up and flown out to sea. So holding on tightly, I tried to play it safe, moving the kite as slowly as possible. My instructor Jing, however, was having none of that. He wanted me to revel in the wind, to relish its power rather than fear it. Taking a deep breath, I decided to give it a try.
What a difference a little courage makes. I set my nervousness aside and moved with the kite, savoring the tension in my body as the wind and I took on each other. It pulled at me and I pulled back, laughing when I felt the kite respond to my commands. I was far from being in total control, though, and the wind was bound to win the tug-of-war now and then. During my first lesson, I accidentally shifted the kite into the power zone, a position which harnessed the wind’s maximum pull. Startled by the sudden burst in the kite’s speed and strength, I lost control and found myself getting dragged across the beach until I tripped over something and slammed into the sand. But oh, it was worth it. In the few seconds before I fell, the thrill was like nothing I’ve ever known, an encounter with nature’s most capricious element. Jing was a little worried that I may have been hurt, but I wanted more. I wanted more of the excitement of the power zone, more of the exhilaration of seeing the kite wheeling bright and fast across the sky. I knew I might fall again, but I was willing to risk it.
When I got home that night, all my muscles were aching. I had a stiff neck from looking up at the kite for hours, as well as a large bruise on my hip from my fall. But I felt wonderful. I learned how to stay in control while putting the kite in the power zone, how to take on the wind and win. Most of all, I learned how not to fear a crash. It can happen any time, but while the kite is up in the air, I’ll launch my soul along with it and take flight. There’s a difference between caution and cowardice, and kiting is teaching me to be smart but take risks. If I fall, then I fall, but while I’m soaring, I’ll forget about gravity and make every second worth it.