As a child I often flew kites, which is to say that I ran haphazardly pulling a string and dragging a wood frames paper rhombus across the park. My father laughed until seeing me on the edge of tears he took up the string and dragged the kite across the park. One day a strong wind blew across the park and the kite lifted into the sky trailing its string to taunt me.
I suspect that I am not alone in wondering if there is a corner of literary hell set aside for those who foist clichés on the world and at the head of that table should sit the fellow who first said “time marches on.” Even Einstein realized that time is relative, and as one who served in the military I can assure you that time does not march, does not follow a neat, tidy cadence, and all to often doesn’t know where it is going. Time does many things, it can meander like an early morning walk along the shore, it can rush forward like the youth discovering what he is sure is love, it can even plod, when the pain is growing and the doctor is ever so slow to respond. Oh, and sitting next to our marching friend I nominate the fool who thought that time might actually fly, maybe hell will be fun for him.
Painfully jammed into the middle seat of five three hours into the fourteen hour flight SFO to Tokyo Narita, it is easy to imagine myself a sheet of origami paper carefully and precisely folded into a crane wings bound in anticipation of taking to the air.
A man ran down the street this morning, flapping his arms. It wasn’t clear if he was running for exercise, moving his arms in the bitter cold, or actually thinking they were wings and with enough motion he might take off. There is also the possibility that he was simply crazy and a look at the thermometer, reading 6 degrees did lend some support to that conclusion. He ran up and down the street staring up at the sky. I watched him for the better part of an hour. I grew tired just from watching but he seemed tireless. Finally, unable to stop staring at him, unable to accomplish anything else, I picked up the phone to dial 911, to get him the help he needed or soon would in this chill. The 911 dispatcher said we get them all the time, particularly as the holiday approach. “Keep an eye on him,” the dispatcher asked, as if I could do otherwise. Just as the squad car turned around the corner, carefully approaching him from behind, I looked on in awe. I saw the man lift gracefully into the sky to the surprise of the crows gathered in a neighbor’s gingko tree. As the police officers stood by their car, staring at the sky, I finally looked away and daydreamed of origami cranes.