Once, a little girl found a balloon. She wanted to keep it, but it was full of air and wanted to float here and there, leaving her behind. After chasing it for a while, she realized that if she wanted to hold onto it, she would have to attach it to herself somehow. So, she tied one end of a string around the end of the balloon, and the other end to her wrist.
From then on, she did everything with that balloon. She ate with it. She went to school with it. She played with it. She slept with it. And once she even came very close to popping it.
But it was her balloon. She’d claimed it, and so it stayed with her through all her activities.
But soon the balloon began to deflate. It had been in the house, in the car, in the cold, in the heat, in restaurants, at sporting events, piano lessons, gymnastics… She’d carried it around all this time. It had become such a part of the little girl, that she hardly knew it was there anymore.
She noticed when it started to deflate, not because the balloon was smaller, but because it got in the way. It used to carry itself through doorways, just by floating like such balloons do. But now she had to pull it through doors and make sure it didn’t get stuck. Sometimes it did get stuck, and she had to stop, go back, and untangle it from the door, and sometimes from other people.
The balloon was getting to be really annoying. But how could she let it go? It was her friend, her companion, her playmate, her partner in all things. What would she do when it was gone?
One day the balloon got caught in a revolving door. That had never happened before, and it would never happen again. The string became hopelessly tangled in the doorway, and finally someone had to cut the string from her wrist.
The little girl wasn’t hurt. But the balloon she had loved for so long, that had become such a part of her life and who she thought she was, could not be saved. There was no air left in the balloon by this time anyway, but the loss was still a painful one.
Immediately, the little girl wanted another balloon. But then she realized she felt free without a string and the weight of a balloon following her around wherever she went!
Freedom was hers, at last! And yet it always had been; she just had a different idea of what freedom meant.
Freedom was not in the balloon that floated without purpose or aim. Freedom was within her, and she could choose to share it, make new friends, and still keep the Spirit that made her embrace the balloon in the first place. She was free with the balloon, until she expanded and discovered new freedom. Then, it was time for the balloon to go. It was no less loved. But it had served its time with her and done her good.
That little girl, like so many, will always remember the balloon she lost. But she will think of its gifts and smile, because it showed her what she already had: a free Spirit that, if she let it, could carry her life to heights beyond her imagination.