Ok, so the line from Alice in Wonderland’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter” says “…of CABBAGES and KINGS…”, but that comes later. Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to talk at length with two of my newest friends in their driveway as they gifted me with an ample supply of heirloom radishes from their garden. We spoke about people we’ve had the privilege to meet, “ordinary” people who meet extraordinary challenges and what we are learning because of situations we’ve faced so far.
As the conversation continued the subject of fear came up. How fear is a challenge we need to learn to conquer because it blocks so much of the good we are capable of doing. We spoke of expectations and the importance of not just maintaining, but pursuing a positive perspective – even with seemingly negative situations. They told me an analogy that had me nearly vibrating as we spoke.
“Life is like swinging on a swing.” What? Where did that come from? I know, it comes from left field at first, but check this out.
People generally expect to move forward in life and any negative experience is seen as detrimental. We don’t want to go backwards. But, if we look at the things we experience like swinging on a swing instead of an arduous hike that involves obstacles, steep inclines and tripping on stuff on the pathway, this new perspective can empower us to make the most of what we used to see as failures.
When you swing on a swing, you physically pull back on the ropes near your shoulders, lean back and kick your feet high in the air to go as high as you can. The exhilaration as you get near the apex of the up-swing is a rush. But, Steve said, when you reach as high as you can go, a lot of people get scared and put their feet down, afraid to fall as you get slack in the rope – or at least not enjoying the backward motion as much as the pull toward the top. But, he continued, the backward motion is NECESSARY for the next exhilarating rush forward!
The three of us went back and forth about this for a minute or two, and I stopped and said, “Wait a minute. When I was first swinging, I didn’t drag my feet. I used to pull just as hard on the backswing, lunging forward, kicking my feet backwards and powering back before throwing my body back, pulling hard on the ropes with my feet as far up as I could get them! (And if my brother was on the swing next to me, the harder we pulled trying to out-do the other!) I used to TRY to get the pipes on the back of the swing set to pull up off the ground! And WE DID – many times! The further BACK you got, the MORE you were ABLE to power forward! Marilyn grinned and agreed, and said, “We LEARN fear. We LEARN to hold back, to be cautious; we want the rush, but not the “slack in the rope”. We do that in life!
We dance with abandon, enjoying the movement, the music, the rhythms - then someone tells us we look funny. We smile all the time, amazed at the beauty and wonder all around us, then someone tells us there’s something wrong with our smile, and we hold back, hiding our teeth, or become self-conscious of how our nose wrinkles up. We have big dreams on what great invention we could build, or a business idea, or something special we could share, but “who would want that?” “that will never work”, “how would we pay for it?” and we hold back, afraid to pursue our dreams because we’d have to give up the safety of the now. We’d have to go “backwards” for a while to make it happen… But what if we changed our perspective?
What if we looked at each idea as an opportunity to rise to the top of the upswing? To feel the weightlessness and breathless enjoyment of each “now”? You CAN! Don’t hold back! Don’t drag your feet! You don’t have to avoid what you used to see as going backwards! It’s not failure - it’s a time of preparation and rest. It’s a time of renewing yourself for the next “growth spurt”!
YOU have an incredible gift to offer the world – YOU! You are unique! The potential you possess is limitless! You have ideas, gifts, talents and things to give that no one else on the planet has. And “swinging” next to others, challenging each other to climb higher, to “get the pipes up off the ground” is AMAZING! Collaboration doesn’t just ADD to the possibilities, it MULTIPLIES the potential! Team up with others who are learning not to fear of the “backswing”. Whether it’s a business idea, a marriage or a great way to help solve one of life’s challenges…Let’s encourage one another to see how far was can climb – and how much energy we can gather in the times of preparation and rest before the next pull forward! I’ll race you to the swings! J