“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
– Helen Keller
As Helen Keller sagely observed, important lessons can be learned through many different parts of life.
When my family recently spent a day at the Oregon Coast, we took the opportunity to fly kites. For the first time (as far as I remember), I actually succeeded in keeping my kite in the air for a prolonged period of time!
Thinking about it when we returned home, I realized that the kiting experience was even worth more than the simple pleasure of success.
In fact, we can learn many important life lessons from even the simple activity of kiting!
#1 Preparation Is Important
When I first got my kite to the beach, I tried to launch it immediately.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t work.
Before I succeeded in getting my kite off the ground, I had to do some preparation:
- Adjusting the string properly (to find the right angle)
- Checking the wind
- Deciding the kite’s start position
Once this preparation was done, lift off was as simple as running into the wind!
In life, we will reap vast rewards when we take the time to complete our planning and preparation before we attempt to start.
Although it can be tempting to “dive in”, the groundwork stages should never be forgotten.
#2 Beginning Is Difficult
Once my kite was airborne, success (using all my string to go as high as possible) was still not easy.
With the fickle lower winds, I had difficulty simply keeping my kite off the ground. Gaining height was even more difficult!
Rather than standing still and watching my kite rise, I had to run up and down the beach as my kite slowly climbed higher.
Even once you have finished your preparation and your “kite” is off the ground, winning success will require constant effort.
The best start in the world is worthless unless followed through with persistence and consistency.
#3 Success Is Temporary
Finally, panting and out of breath, I looked up to find my kite flying high and out of string.
I had attained success!
Because of the stronger winds higher up, I no longer was forced to run up and down the beach, but I could simply stand there and watch my kite.
After about half an hour, however, the winds lessened, and the battle for success began all over again.
Soon after, tired of running, I let my kite flutter down through the weak winds to the ground.
Even after I had gained “kiting success”, the road was not easy, and the success did not last forever.
In life, it is easy to get the feeling that working hard and attaining victory will make the rest of life easy.
However, this is not the case. Even the most hard-won success will fail eventually without the constant outlay of effort.
#4 Situations Change
My lack of permanent success was a result of two factors:
- The lessening wind.
- My lack of persistence to create my own wind by running.
If conditions had stayed the same (i.e., strong winds), my success would have lasted.
When the wind weakened, however, I was faced with two options. I could have run, but instead I chose to let my “success” end.
In life, we are often faced with changing circumstances:
- Friends move.
- Jobs change.
- Weather changes.
- Goals alter.
- Plans adjust.
Because of the many changes in life, it is not possible for everything to remain constant.
Even if we try to remain the same, we will simply find ourselves left behind as the world continues moving relentlessly forward.
To achieve long-term success, we must anticipate and prepare for change.
#5 Activities Can Change
When the wind change came, I chose to change activities.
Although I could have kept my kite up by running, I chose to change from kiting to digging in the sand.
The changing wind damaged my ability to fly a kite, but it did not affect my sand castle building.
In life, we can either change our methods or our activities.
Depending on our personal goals, persistence, and enthusiasm, we might be better off simply switching to a different occupation.
By investing a little time, we will find that many other activities will also teach us important lessons like kiting does.
What have your leisure activities taught you about life?