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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The importance of Kite Flying

With the sun rising so early, and mornings so peaceful, I've been trying to get back into the early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine. It takes a few days. I have my phone set to wake me every morning at 6am: I get out of bed, turn it off, and then take a moment to judge how tired I am. If I feel that my body really does need more sleep, I'll reset the second alarm for an hour later. If I'm just sleepy but my body feels like it's had a thorough rest, I'll go back to bed and doze until the next alarm 10 minutes later. Then I'll get up and immediately dress to go for a jog.

On my way back from the park this morning (I managed to avoid doing press-ups in a puddle of wee today, having realised that the white patches on the soft tarmac around the playground were not just white due to some natural discolouration process) I listened to Episode 20 of the Radiant Vista (photography) podcast, recently introduced to me by my fellow digital photography loving coursemate Jason. In this episode, Craig talks about how important it is for artists (and anyone really) to take time out to play, to do something completely non-productive, in order that we can spend time with our right brain and let creativity blossom.

He describes a time on a recent workshop where they'd gone out to death valley to take some photos of the moonrise, when a couple of group members pulled out some kite. Apparently they took with them wherever they went, and before any photo shoot, they'd fly them.

Like Craig, I too love kite flying. As a child at the Hereford Waldorf School, we had an annual kite-flying day, when the whole school would head up to Garway Hill, a few miles south west of Much Dewchurch. From that huge bracken-covered molehill you could look out across our valley to the east (where our house appeared as a little white dot a few miles away), and to the west, across the river Monnow into Wales, with the Black Mountains on the horizon. I remember a couple of people had these amazing stunt kites, they were called Peter Pans or something like that. Mine was a bit simpler: a tiny little frame-less bundle of white and pink nylon that would fly in the slightest breeze. I was very fond of that kite.

The last time I saw a kite being flown was when I was waiting in the queue for the bus that would take me from Beijing to the Great Wall (August 2007), and there were these guys flying the most lifelike birds of prey kites that you've ever seen, so high up you could scarcely believe they were on strings.

The manner in which they gracefully crossed the sky, slowly turning at the end of a long arc, or circling as if having spotted some prey far below... it had me mesmerised.

The podcast reminded how important it is to take time out on a regular basis to do something FUN. An activity such as kite-flying that sees my mind freed of earthly worries, filled with childish wonder. I don't do that as often as I might having tied myself to this productivity ideal, but it got me thinking that actually, if I did take just a couple of hours out each week to do that sort of thing the positive influence would vastly outweigh any 'loss' incurred by not being able to be productive for a couple of hours.

And in actual fact, I 'waste' so much time procrastinating online that I could simply decide to take that time and use it as my 'free time'.

Anyway, I have one final weekend of essay writing ahead of me now. My dissertation is due in on Friday, so I really must get it finished by Sunday in order that it can proof-read and all.

See you in the library.

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