There is a little thing that happens to many of us, especially right around now. Things seem to be humming along just fine – we’re working or cooking dinner or vacuuming the kitchen – feeling we have something of a handle on our lives. And then somehow, inexplicably, without our even noticing, the needle slides off the record.
It may have been the cough. Or the state of the world. Or forgetting to dress warmly that time. Or perhaps accidentally scheduling just a few weekends to resemble carnivals rather than rest time. But it is suddenly All Too Much. The Land of Fine feels lost in the rearview mirror, and we question whether it was really ever there to begin with.
Back when I was struggling with a long term illness that would flare up willy nilly, leaving me bewildered and bereft, my husband Jon would say, “You just lost your kite strings.” I would want to find some sort of pattern to explain why I had so suddenly, so thoroughly been waylaid, but he offered this gentle, story-less explanation. “They just slipped from your fingers, those kite strings.”
“I’ll hold them for you,” he said, “I’ll keep them safe until you want them back.”
This was one of the kindest gestures I’ve ever encountered. Because, at that moment, there was really nothing I could hold to, and feeling that someone else could mind those threads while I curled up and rested was exactly what I needed.
I’ve said this to friends too over the years, when inexplicable rough patches send them hurtling. Once in a while, we need someone else to hold the kite. But the truth is that those strings can also be held by pets, and walks alone, and time that gives us permission to give up a little, because there isn’t energy for more.
In our house, we use kite strings now as a kind of short hand for suddenly-don’t-have-it-quite-together. It also means: Please be a little softer with me. I may need a little space, a little time. I have some tending to do.