Friday, October 14, 2011

An Ode to the Swing

When we were dismissed for recess during school, most of us would make a mad dash for the swings in the hopes of being the first to snag one of those coveted little contraptions. It was a rare occasion for me to actually get one, as it seemed like there was always another class that had been released early, and my heart would sink when I would round the corner and see that they were already full.

In an effort to make the swing-nabbing fairer, the teachers came up with a “brilliant” plan: If you wanted to swing, you could stand near one of the swingers and count to sixty. The swinger would then have to relinquish his spot and give you a turn.
The problem with this is sixty seconds is barely enough time to get the swing to full speed and enjoy a good ride, not to mention the poor shy kids who did not have the guts to participate in this plan. There was always the chance you’d end up choosing a little punk who’d refuse to get off once you’d counted, and I never wanted to risk having to spend my recess tracking down a teacher to tattle to.

But one glorious day I actually managed to find a free swing right at the beginning of recess. Oh, how happy I was! Those swings were BIG, and you could go HIGH. And I did. I pushed and pulled my weight until I had that thing flying so high and so fast that I thought it might break.
I was elated. I felt like I was soaring into the clouds, my little heart pumping wildly with joy. I was exhilarated by the whole awesome experience - the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the strength in my body as I pushed myself higher and higher. I was unstoppable.

ode to the swing
“Fine! I’m telling!”
Shocked, I looked down to see an angry kid beginning to stomp off across the gravel. He had counted to sixty, and in my state of euphoria, I hadn’t even noticed. I skidded to a stop as he smugly returned.

After giving up my beloved swing, I spent the rest of recess walking around the playground, deflated and discouraged. I could have counted to get the swing back, but I likely would have had to give it up sixty seconds later anyway. And I knew that after such an abrupt disruption to my psyche, it would be impossible to get back what I’d had.

I love that I have that brief moment of bliss to look back on. It’s a shame that it couldn’t have lasted through the whole recess, but I suppose it was an important life lesson to learn. No matter how hard we try to hold on to those idyllic times in our lives, they are so, so brief, and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the interruptions. But we’ll always have them in our hearts.
Always, always, always enjoy the ride. Because none of us ever has any idea how long it will last. And when you let someone else have his turn, go ahead and let it last the whole recess.