Just over two years ago I had a chance encounter that led to one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was walking around in Weifang, China, where my son lives. I was not only lost but clueless about how very large the city was.
Weifang’s claim to fame is kites. They have a kite museum and I, incorrectly assumed it was in the very large complex that is called people’s square (it is in People’s Park, a few miles away). I was wandering about, my second day in town, still a bit jet lagged. I didn’t have a map or instructions so I just wandered. My feet were getting tired and I was starting to wonder if I should head the kilometer or two to the mall where I knew I could get a cold drink, when a man carrying what looked like it might be a fishing rod in a case stopped next to me as I watched some fish in an artificial waterway.
He pointed to some things I smiled. I thought maybe he was going to fish. But somehow, without either of us speaking a word of the other’s language he indicated I should follow along and I did.
He was carrying a kite. I had not tried to fly a kite since a child and I never had much success the once or twice I tried. This guy could fly a kite, and so could the other men in the park. It was amazing to see how high the kites went, and impossible to really show with a photograph, although I tried.
It was great fun to watch. I couldn’t believe it when he gave me the controls! He wanted to try out my camera so I handed it over (one of the great things about having a not horribly valuable, hard to use camera is the ability to do that). He had fun playing with my camera and I experienced being “a bird in flight, with my fist holding tight to the string of a kite”. It is a great sensation feeling and adjusting to the wind. It was one of those times when you are fully there in the moment. I knew I was having one of the times of my life and kept at it until my neck started to cramp up. He took a lot of pictures, many of them of me (I am a bit of an oddity in that city as I have mentioned in a couple of other posts).
I have written about this experience before. I just can’t believe that it happened to un-impulsive, stay-away-from-strangers, plan-it-all-out-ahead-of-time me. That experience changed me, it made me much more comfortable going with the flow and being open with strangers. One of the pictures he took of me with his kite is my gravatar. A butterfly is a good symbol for a life changing experience.