Up, Up, and Away

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to travel back to my hometown of Statesville, North Carolina, for the annual hot air balloon festival.

Growing up in a town with a hot air balloon factory was always a treat – you never knew when you might look up and see a balloon peacefully passing by overhead. And if you were really lucky, you’d be in the right meadow at just the right time, and a balloon would land before your very eyes.

Most of the time, our modern life shields us from the inner workings of amazing things. Think about airports – they are designed to keep us as far away from the planes as possible. The hot air balloon festival is a different story – when walking through the festival, you have to be careful not to step on a balloon, unrolled on the ground preparing for launch.

As the great fans and propane tanks inflate the balloon’s envelope, the billowing rainbow colors are right overhead, and your face feels scorched from the heat. As the balloons rise from among the spectators, amid cheers and waves, everyone is mesmerized, and everyone – adults and children alike – can only say, “Wow.”

I try to attend the festival every year, because I think we all benefit from a good dose of “Wow.” It’s good to get up close to something amazing and to be reminded that despite that way it feels sometimes, the world doesn’t come pre-packaged.


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