The Red Balloon


Reconnecting with Your Inner Child


In the 1956 short film ‘The Red Balloon,’ by Albert Lamorisse, a young boy finds a balloon tethered to a lamppost amongst the grey streets of Paris, a city with some neighborhoods still in visible rubble and ruin after the second world war. The balloon becomes more than just a colorful play thing for the lonely boy. It is magically animated and follows him throughout his day as he faces the harshness of a depressing society where his freedom is restricted and regulated by public transit authorities, school administrators, and even his guardian at home. We all represent Pascal, a child growing up in the shadow of war, because we have all fought our own battles internally and externally throughout our lives on this earth. The red balloon has so many important lessons to teach us today about magic, imagination, joy, and especially transcendence. If you haven’t seen this award-winning film, give yourself the gift of thirty-five minutes of inspiration. If you have seen it, watch it again to remind yourself that we are never alone, magic still exists, and there are no limits to our potential as we aspire to evolve throughout our lives.


When we seek enlightenment, as the boy symbolically does climbing the lamppost to retrieve a red balloon, we as seekers find what we are looking for. The red balloon is not only a play thing, but becomes a companion for the boy, following him wherever he goes. The presence of the balloon always being there, no matter what, is a symbol of the spirit guides that are always watching over us, guiding us, and loving us when we assume we are fighting the good fight on our own. We are never alone on this earthly plane. Children often play with and speak to what adults jokingly call imaginary friends, but these “imaginary” beings are in fact quite real, if we are willing to learn to look through the lenses of our childlike wonder that we adults have forgotten how to use.


Magic is indeed everywhere when we open our blocked hearts and muddled minds. The color red in the film symbolizes passion, love and life force energy. It stands out on the candy apple red balloon, but is also visible on the coats of the children, their leather school bags, and their cardigans, in an otherwise grey, concrete existence. The cobble-stoned streets of Paris are grey, the buildings are grey, the sky is grey, and even the adults have no color in their expressions or attire. But children have color because they know magic exists. They seek it out. They hear it in a bird’s song. They discover it in a street performer. They see it dancing as a shadow on the sidewalk.


Children are not fools. They know there are rules. They are quite aware of the unfairness of the world, of cruelty, and fear. But they are equally aware of limitless possibility because their imaginations are extraordinarily expansive. So when the bullies hunt Pascal down and burst his treasured balloon, deflating his only friend, his hope and joy, that’s when the miracle happens. Balloons of every color, hidden from sight, emerge from all the doorways and windows of Paris and present themselves to the boy as he gathers them with joy. He is lifted from the rubble, rising above the bullies, as he transcends the harsh world and is elevated to another dimension where pure bliss exists, where he is free to just be.


Like the boy in ‘The Red Balloon,’ we have the power to lift ourselves to another level of understanding and awareness. We can rise out of the dark alleys and old ways of thinking. We can pursue our lofty aspirations. How? Shift your perspective. See as a child sees. Imagine a new reality. Focus on color and light and positivity. Concentrate on creativity and play. Buy yourself a red balloon, or a blue balloon, or a green one. Carry it around and watch how your world will change for the better. Even if all you do is put a smile on someone else’s face. That is magical in itself.