Today we went to a party in a park. When we got there, kids were flying kites. We watched. We tried it. The kids ran with the kites after the wind died.
And the kids asked, "What would happen if the kite went really high and the string broke? Would the kite fly away?"
I remembered flying kites with my family when I was young. And I remembered that when the strings broke or you stopped tugging back against the kite's efforts to escape, the kites didn't fly away free. They plummeted to the earth and crashed hard on their top points, often breaking the kite.
Interesting that the best way to make a kite soar is not to set it free, but to pull it back, keep it anchored to the earth. Even to get a kite high into the air, you can't just let the string out as fast as the kite wants to go up. You have to pull back, pull back, and let the string play out slowly, letting the kite rise in a controlled flight, not a rush toward the sun.
Thinking about that on the way home, I realized that people are like kites. We aren't at our best when we're set free and allowed to pursue, unfettered, any whim or notion the wind puts into our minds. It's not safe. It's not a good idea. It doesn't allow us to soar, to explore new horizons, or to be free like we think it would. Instead, it leaves us crashing, hard and fast, in ways that leave us broken and unable to fly.
We need things that pull back against our efforts to do whatever we want. We need families that rely on us to fill obligations so we can't go wandering the planet chasing dreams. We need guidelines like the gospel that give us direction and limitations. We sometimes need adversity to tug back hard and keep us from going into a nosedive that seems impossible when we're flying high, our wings full of wind. We need anchors.
And if we want to fly high, we have to be patient, not just rocketing off into space simply because we can see where we want to be. The string has to play out slowly, letting us rise a little at a time, or we plummet.
Some day, when my kids question why we have rules, or when their friends question why Mormons have such "restrictions" on them, I hope I remember to take them first to fly a kite.