My early years were spent living in Manhattan. New York, for anyone who has never visited, is a city to be seen on foot. You can walk everywhere; there is always something or someone to see. When I was young, there were a lot of colourful street vendors selling everything from roasted chestnuts and hot dogs to watches and balloons. I loved getting a balloon.
I loved that it defied gravity and slapped against me in a gust of wind. I liked the balloon’s smell, its texture and the sound it made, a tiny, echoing thud, when it would bump into anything or anyone. I also liked the colour red, perhaps because when the balloon escaped from my hand and shot up to the clouds, the contrast between the monochrome skyscrapers and the red of the balloon slowly rising above them fascinated me. At the same time, losing my balloon to the clouds made me quite sad. I wanted to hold on to it forever.
When this happened – and it happened many times – my mum would lean down and ask me, “Did you enjoy your time with it?” I’d always answer, “Yes.” She’d smile and say: “That’s all that matters. Balloons aren’t permanent. They fly away. They pop. They lose their air…You know that. Don’t be sad over something you can’t control. Let go of your sadness and remember the fun you had with the balloon instead.”
She was right. Nothing in this life is permanent.
I have always tried to take my cue from my mum’s wise words. We members of creative communities are very sensitive folk. We must keep what inspires us and let go of the rest. With our short time on this Earth we focus on fixing our mistakes, our work, our relationships and ourselves. We are all students. We can work to improve our writing, our art and our music. We can release ourselves from sadness when sadness holds us down. We can let go, and like balloons, we can rise above.
Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel on sale now: maggiemaccormack.com