Last week I sat with a tangled kite string. I spent almost an hour working at it to try to take out all the knots. There was really no reason to do it. I had been offered a kite to fly and I’d accepted, but when I opened the pouch I discovered a tangled cord. I don’t usually untangle things. I look for scissors. I don’t have the patience. Untangling is too fiddly and annoying and I can’t see a clear way to do it.
I wanted to fly that kite. It somehow mattered. I sat on a stony beach and worked at the line. Some of the bigger knots were quickly unravelled but as I got to the centre of the knotting it became almost impossible. I couldn’t see where the threads crossed each other. It was pulled so tightly it was difficult for me to get my fingers in the gaps to loosen the knots. And then it began to rain and as I gathered up the kite to move to shelter some of the knots re-grouped. I started again, and it seemed imperative to keep working at the string, albeit blindly, not quite knowing whether what I was doing would make a difference.
Eventually it did. I felt such a sense of achievement. I stood up to fly the kite. I wish I could tell you that it soared high and looked beautiful against the blue sky and the white clouds, and everyone looked at it, and I felt happy that I was flying such a great kite. That didn’t happen. It wasn’t such a great kite design and it was very gusty. The kite lifted and turned in crazy ( dramatic) circles before crashing. Repeatedly. When the wind did catch it and pull it up, the string burned through my fingers as it pulled out, and I was left with cuts or cord wrapped around my fingers cutting off the blood flow. The kite snagged on rocks and then the tail came off. Very quickly the line was tangled again.
Somehow in that moment I stopped needing a perfect kite. I tried flying it in its crazy circles with the tangled line. It flew. The tail was tied on and looked fantastic as it whirled in a loop.
And I knew throughout that whole process that my Father was showing me things. Earlier that morning my husband had said something astoundingly hurtful to me. He didn’t mean to hurt me, but he did. The sort of punch in the gut hurt that winds you and knocks all of your confidence. My inner monologue had been asking whether I could keep working at this marriage, which seemed to be recovering and yet still held such difficulties.
That’s when I realised that I need to keep working at our untangling. Maybe we’ve undone the big visible knots, but as we move to the tightly knotted parts it is hard work. We don’t even know what it is we are trying to do but we must keep working at it. And even as we untangle I now see that a kite can fly with a tangled string. We are airborne. There are flashes of colour and loveliness but the gusts blow us and we crash again. Flying my kite felt like flying a plastic bag; it was not a well made, perfect kite. We are imperfect. Our marriage is and always will be imperfect. We will keep crashing and it will always require work to become airborne again.
This marriage, this life is not about stopping and pausing. It’s about persevering and committing and working with what we’ve got, and learning to accept that the beauty of the crazy circles is going to co-exist alongside the frustration and disappointment of the crashes. None of this is easy, but it is a new phase we are entering into. We are flying our imperfect kite again. This is real marriage. Real talk.
This post is linked with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday series – this week on the theme of ‘entering in’