I did something yesterday that I probably haven’t done in 20 years.
And that still most likely puts me ahead of most people my age, who I would guess haven’t engaged in this particular activity for at least 40 years.
I went on the swings.
I was teaching a summer class this week. Well, to tell the truth “class” might be a bit of a stretch, and “teaching” most definitely is hyperbole.
I was leading two groups of little kids in a camp class called “Drama Start to Finish”. During a break in our thespian endeavors, we went out on the playground. One of the little ones asked me to push her on the swing, so I did. Another asked me to swing with them, and for reasons that escape me at the moment, I agreed!
My butt barely fit into the plastic sling, and I had rivets digging into both thighs. But for some odd reason, I didn’t really think about it. I just leaned back and started to pump my legs. The other three swings were filled with little girls, and the conversation between them swirled around me as I leaned into the smooth back and forth rhythm. I pulled on the chains, feeling the tension in my shoulders. I listened to the girls, chatting about movies and songs, but I knew that they didn’t need me to respond or comment or ask a question. Their voices became a part of the background, mixing with the sound of the wind in my ears and the squeak of the chains above me. I tilted my head as far back as it would go, amazed and thrilled by the perfect blue of the sky above me.
I could see the undersides of some of the leaves in the trees that line our playground. The green was a paler, softer shade of the color that I usually see. I could see, if I really leaned far back, the bottoms of tender young pine cones in the white pines behind me, and one silver drop of sap, nearly ready to fall.
It made me wonder.
When did I stop swinging? When did I give up the giddy swoop of my dropping stomach as I reached the highest peak of my backward arc? When did I stop fearing that I might somehow go “over the bar”, and hurl myself too far?
And I wondered not only “when”, but “why”. Why is it that adults stop wanting to hold onto those chains, pushing to see just how close we can come to flying?
I swung back and forth, as long as I could. My head began to feel dizzy, and my lunch was no longer securely in its place inside my stomach. My arms were a little bit achy, and my fingers were slightly numb. I had been swinging for less than five minutes, not even a fifth of what my little students could accomplish with ease.
Still, I was feeling happy. I had looked at the brightest summer sky. I had leaned myself back as far as my aging back could go, and I had noticed the beauty that is usually hidden by the maple leaves. My arms would remember my adventures, and the dents in my legs would no doubt leave some bruises. But I had no regrets.
It made me wonder what else I have forgotten since the last time that I really enjoyed recess!