Sunday, April 14, 2024

Time to change your loop


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The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delights in his way. – Psalm 37:23 (KJV)
Recently I took time off to enjoy the Bajan pastime of kite-flying. It is a pastime whose skills represent a dying art for most Barbadian youth of this generation. I recall the days when every little boy in virtually every village flew some sort of kite, or if not well made or defined, we would call it a “frite”.
This seemed somehow to be part of his initiation from the innocence of childhood to the wider corridors of teenage years. Those of us who had sisters ensured that they too acquired the skill of kite-flying, even if to a lesser level of competence. But kite-flying did not end when one became an adult. In fact, many adults find it rather therapeutic to continue the practice well into the advanced years of their lives.
In 2012, I continued to “up” the same kite I have been flying since 2008. The loop was already installed or “put in”. It is interesting how things have changed. Every village not only had its kite-makers but some made enough to have a little kite depot from which those who were unskilled or too busy could buy a kite for $1.50 or $2.
In those days all you bought was the kite but you had to put in your own loop or get someone who could to do it for you. Not only did you have to put in your own loop but you had to find your own tail. In fact, many of us boys got our “tails” in trouble because often you pretended that your mother’s skirt or bedsheet was old enough to be torn up for “tailing” purposes.
It is interesting how nowadays you can buy a kite like how you buy fast food. It is fully loaded with ready-made loop and tail in place.
The most recent experience was rather inspirational. My uncle, who was in from Oldham, examined my loop with which I have been flying my kite for all these years. I had no major problems with it except that the kind of loop gave the kite a pregnant personality in that while it behaved quite ladylike in the sky, it had a large belly that had a labouring effect on the quality of the flying and placed an unnecessary burden on the cord.
In spite of the bulging belly on which my kite looked down as it soared against the windy sky, I did not have to give it any “pills” to calm or stabilize it, neither did I have to send any trash-borne messages for it to keep quiet. Uncle changed the loop and by so doing, changed the quality of the life the kite led.
The loop of a kite is the controlling mechanism that determines the quality of the “life” the kite leads while it is airborne. From my experience as a boy learning the dynamics of kite-making and kite-flying, I was schooled in the varieties of loops and their impact on the behaviour of the kite.
There are three kinds of loops. There is pulling loop, which is more suitable for the adult or skilled kite-flyer. It picks up the pressure of the wind very quickly and if the kite is placed in the hands of a novice child, the consequences could by detrimental.
There is also mounting loop, which causes the kite to fly almost vertically above your head. If well installed, you virtually have to lean your head right back to see it as it soars sky-high.
Then there is lapping loop. This is perhaps the most ineffective, in terms of the behaviour of the kite while airborne. There is not much pressure on the cord but the kite can sometimes be easily blown this way and that by a strong wind even though the cord is in your hand. It is the kind of loop that would make kite-flying easy for a child who would have difficulty contending with a kite controlled by the other types of loops.
Treating the kite as symbolic of life, one might ask what is the nature of the controlling mechanism in your life and in whose hands have you placed your baller? If you are not happy with the behaviour of your kite, maybe it is time to change your loop and place the baller in the right hands. Happy kite-flying!
• Matthew Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education, and a social commentator. Email

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