Kite Flying for the Soul

Kite Flying for the Soul

I am a fan of reality TV.  My wife and I will watch cooking shows, singing shows, survival shows, travel shows, shooting shows, people-locked-together-in-a-house shows – as long as it’s not a dancing show, we will give it a shot. For the most part it’s mindless entertainment – but every now and then, something will surprise me.  Something will sneak up on me when I least expect it and make me FEEL.  I had one of those moments when watching a young man named Connor Doran on last night’s “America’s Got Talent”*.   His talent?  Flying a kite.  Trust me – it was far more extraordinary than it sounds.

Connor is a 17 year-old high school senior from Bend, OR.  When he was four he was diagnosed with epilepsy.  During his interviews, he has talked about some of the struggles he has had as a result of his condition.  Connor talked about feeling worthless at times and the constant barrage of people telling him that he couldn’t do things because of the disease.  Then he discovered indoor kite flying.  Learning to fly a four string indoor kite became a way for him to relieve stress.  As he told the audience at his first audition:

“Flying – nobody – nothing can touch me.  I’ve never thought about having a seizure.”

Indoor kite flying uses a person’s movement to propel the kite, instead of wind.  It’s akin to dancing in many ways.  Watching Connor perform, and knowing that he suffers from epilepsy, is a remarkable experience.  His grace with the kite permeates the entire performance.  It’s very easy to look at what he does and say – “That looks easy – he’s just flying a kite”.  That is precisely what makes it so extraordinary – he makes it look effortless.  He exhibits a control and fluidity that that only comes when an artist truly subsumes himself into his art.

“I’m immune to everything.  It’s me and the kite.”

It’s very hard to watch Connor perform and not be moved.  I can be the most jaded, cynical, sarcastic critic on the planet at times.  Yet watching his performance last night – I was touched.  He drew me in with the simplicity of his expression and the complexity of his emotion.  It would be easy (as many online have already done) to dismiss this as just a kid flying a kite.  It is that.  But to stop there is to miss the point of Connor’s story and Connor’s talent.  The real story is a about a boy who has struggled in life – but has found a way to connect with that still, soft place in his soul where he is at peace.  It is a story about a boy who can suspend an audience in silent wonder by losing himself in a world whose boundaries are defined as a space no larger than himself and a kite.  It is a story about refusing to accept the counsel of those who would tell all that you cannot do, instead of helping you find all that you can.  It is a story about those things that are the best in all of us.  I’m glad that Connor decided to share it with everyone.

“Because I have epilepsy, my whole life I’ve been told I can’t do things.  But kite flying’s kind of changed that.  I have something I’m good at – like a normal kid.  So that makes me feel like I can do things.

*Full disclosure – “America’s Got Talent” airs on NBC.   I am an employee of NBC/Universal –  I do not, however, work on the television side of the business.  The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions.

© 2010, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.

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