Swing Away

Remember those special childhood years, sometime in your post-toddler, pre-double digits (The big ONE-ZERO) where the swings when the best? When any trip to a park had to include some time on those plastic (or if you or your park was old enough, metal) seats on chains? When you felt no shame in crying “Higher, higher!” imperiously to an adult or, later, when you could serenely pump your legs for a seemingly endless amount of time, lost in your own world?

But, from an adult standpoint, a swing is really one of the most fruitless endeavors imaginable. You put in all this energy (your own or someone pushing you) and your final result is that you end the same place were you started- dizzy and windswept. Yet try to explain that to a child: tell a three year old that their cries of “higher!” are futile or silly or unsafe and they will probably just giggle and demand you push them harder.

We can say it’s an innocence or a purity of childhood. We can talk about the fact that kids live in the moment, alive to the sensation of soaring without any thought about the eventual letdown and sore buttocks. We could even talk of the beauty of their goal; to soar higher and faster into the air, to take flight. But if you allow yourself to remember that feeling, that freeness of the the ka-lunk lunk eeeeee of the chain penduluming your body back and forth, you should be able to recall that most of those ideas and thoughts were not going through your mind.

The idea of childish innocence precludes the idea that what we enjoy as children is the innocence itself, since being aware of it would mean to instantly lose it. What most people, if they’re honest, will remember of the childhood swing is the sense of unreality, of the dreamlike quality it takes on. To lose yourself in the flow of the swing is to invite yourself into trance,  a mediative state. On the swing we can be anything and Dream anything. On the swing we are not held down by the mundane or the real. On the swing we can reach the sky and we can go faster, go higher. Physics be damned.

It is these feeling we need to recapture. Not an innocence, but a serenity. Not a purity or a “pro-active” attitude, but a mindset and desire to do the impossible, to defy gravity. We must find some way to return to that state so that we can dream big dreams and not be bogged down by reality or science saying no no no.

Dreams must be grounded in reality and planned out. But that is only once they have been created. Before one can plan, a dream must be born. Before we can bring plans into fruition we must first envision them. We must find a place or moment where we can feel that freedom of the swing, that freefall of flight that strips us of the mundane. For some it might be a warm bath, for others a 5k run, a good book or a comfy couch. But whatever it is, it is essential.

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