Mia let her balloon go. It was a gold balloon, and we watched it sail up and away, heaven-bound. We watched it until we couldn’t see it anymore, but sometimes it would catch in the sunlight just so, a speck in the sky flashing brilliantly, fleetingly.
Almost as soon as she let go, she regretted her decision.
“Balloons aren’t meant to last,” I told her.
Still, she cried. She went inside. She moped. She made flyers featuring a gold balloon and requesting that, if found, the gold balloon be returned to Mia (no address or phone number included).
My first instinct was to tell her she was being ridiculous. I mean, it’s a balloon. But then I started to empathize with her. Because I know this girl. I once was this girl. I still am this girl in some ways.
Sometimes we allow our happiness to rest upon the things we carry, even as they become too heavy, their strings too burdensome. Sometimes they become grander, more voluminous, more iconic in the heat of our palms. Sometimes the things we carry are made of joy and friction, sparkle and darkness, and usually it is the multifaceted things that hold the most magic. But even magic is not void of weight.
The Buddhists believe that there is a fundamental disparity between the ways in which we perceive the world and the way things actually are. Perhaps this is true, and that is why, when we let go, the weightlessness is so much heavier than we anticipated. Our perspective is jaded. For a little while, at least.
At bedtime Mia asked, “Where do you think my balloon is now? Florida? Japan? Do you think a kid found my balloon?”
I told her it was possible.
“I forgot to send a note.”
I asked what she would have written.
“I hope you take good care of my balloon, and I hope you like it.” She thought for a minute before adding: “And then I hope you let it go so it can go around the whole world, and all the kids can have a turn.”
And just like that my daughter reminded me of something I had forgotten.
Sometimes the magic is in letting go.