Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Believing in Imagination
I was reading Debra Kayn's Tuesday Catch Up and it spurred a random childhood memory. One that made me remember the power of imagination and risk taking, and how both combined can help us soar as writers.
Debra was reflecting on kite flying, asking readers whether we recall the last time we flew a kite. I don't remember the last time, but I remember the most important. I was eleven, and Bank of America was sponsoring a kite making contest. Kites were judged on beauty as well as flying performance. The grand prize was a ten-speed bike and a $100 savings account, darn major stuff when you're eleven! Tons of kids at my school entered for a shot at that prize, and set about constructing the "perfect" kite. Fathers and sons measured and calculated; girls selected the prettiest tissue papers.
And me? I'd never built a kite, had only flown one a couple of times. This was no deterrent, as I had a vision. I determined that my kite would be like no other. Mine would be a god's eye kite.
Remember god's eyes? You crossed two sticks together, then wove yarn over and under in different colors to form a diamond shape. That, I decided, would be my kite.
Oh, how other kids laughed at me! "A yarn kite?? You can't make a kite out of YARN!" My parents, on the other hand, never told me I couldn't, never expressed any concern that it might not fly. So I worked to weave a giant god's eye in all colors, braiding long yarn strands to form the tail. All kites went on display in the bank as soon as they were entered, and that god's eye was truly a jaw-dropper that stood out from the rest. Kids grudgingly had to admit the kite looked pretty amazing, but they were still confident it would never fly and I would lose.
When the day came to take those kites into the parking lot, I felt the first real flutterings of trepidation. My kite was so much heavier, so different. It was nothing like the others, and I felt foolish standing there with my weird yarn contraption. What had intrigued me as inspirational now seemed a ridiculous flight of fancy, and I wished I'd made my kite like everyone else's. Still, I grit my teeth and decided to give it my best shot...and when that god's eye soared higher than any of the others, my heart went right along with it.
That bike is long gone as is the hundred dollar prize, but the lesson I learned that day remained ever since. To truly be free with our creations, we must risk taking chances on our own vision--and believe in ourselves even when others don't. Otherwise, we'll never truly know how far we might have flown.
So fly free, and don't let the whispers of "you can't" keep your kite from soaring!