The Middle Ground

One day as I cycled home from work, I passed a field overgrown with shaggy Brazilian pepper trees and sable palms. From out of nowhere, a swallow-tailed kite shot above the tree line in a completely vertical ascent, banked into a sharp turn with a slight flick of its forked tail, and dove in a near free-fall back down below the trees. I watched this graceful and dramatic display in a state of awe, then envy. If only I could fly like that.

Not a swallow-tailed kite, but close enough for illustrative purposes!

As I turned my attention back to staying within the confines of the bike path, I noticed the building to my right, across the street from the field. It was an old age home.  Residents lounged in the shadows of the front porch, some stooped over on benches, others in wheelchairs with their attendants. At the time, my grandmother was in a home not unlike this one, and I began to wonder what they were thinking. Had they admired the kite’s acrobatics too? Then it crossed my mind that perhaps they were watching me. I considered the possibility that they might long for what I took for granted—mobility. Suddenly I saw myself occupying the middle ground between the kite and the elderly, and I was thankful for what I had. Still, I felt somewhat guilty that it took a comparison to a group less fortunate than me to realize this.

I try to keep the lesson from this day in my mind as I encounter life’s inevitable aggravations. Sometimes it is difficult. However, when I take a deep breath and decide to focus on the most important details of the landscape, my perspective becomes a little higher…not unlike the swallow-tailed kite’s.