Runaway balloons are proof that you can escape the clutches of a fist that tries to keep you down. When I met one today, I cheered it on to keep flying past the sharp branches of really tall trees. I didn’t know how much longer it could stay in the sky. Because all it will do is float until it can’t anymore, though my instincts tell me it ended up in Paris to spend its final helium-filled moments on the top of the Eiffel Tower.
It is there this glittery balloon-being sighs and thinks life has been good to it. The only purpose it had was to live freely and to spread joy. When I found it, it had already served its duty at Mary and Robert’s 57th anniversary for as long as it was absolutely necessary. And when the time was right, it flung itself into the air and kept moving to keep the joy spreading. Throughout the journey, it waved to children playing in the street; it ran alongside a dog who happily tried to chase it; and it met me who finally looked up for the first time in a while.
Some people remind me of runaway helium balloons. I admire how carefree they are and how they continue to climb in any which way they choose. And no matter where they go, they manage to spread joy to those they meet. They also swerve and dip without a fear of falling. These balloon-like people don’t need the wind, but they trust it when it flings them in a new direction. And then they continue to float and float and float. And, more importantly, they let themselves dance.
If we are lucky, we get to meet a handful of these special people. We learn their names and keep their secrets. We call them our family and our closest pals. But sometimes, like a balloon in a sky, the people that we admire are too far up for us to ever get close to. We admire them from afar, but it’s enough to make us feel like we have a connection.
We admire them because they have the ability to stand out against the normal palette of an everyday sky. Among the blues and the whites, or the grays and the darker grays, they always shine on. Our eyes catch a glimmer of their reflecting light, and we are captivated. And we love that they shine because they reflect the light that it bathes in.
From the sun to the balloon, and then from the balloon to us; it is a gift of light that just keeps passing along. What I find most intriguing and special about runaway balloons is the freedom they have found for themselves. These metallic wonders don’t let anyone control them because they stray beyond anyone’s grasp; but they just manage to hold onto a thread of our attention — if only to remind us that we too can fly.
Kathy Tun of Spring Valley is a sophomore at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington. She can be reached in care of this newspaper at P.O. Box 340, Princeton, IL 61356.