If there were only more swings, your friend will teach you, the world would be a happier place.
Your friend takes you to the beach on a chilled Sunday morning after breakfast, when the sand is still damp from the rain the night before, and she teaches you that swinging can transform your problems.
You don’t understand it that morning. You dangle on the swing beside her and wonder why swinging suddenly makes you feel nauseated (when it never used to as a child) while she kicks her legs in the air and screams: I FREAKING LOVE SWINGS.
But a few weeks later, you get it.
It’s Friday night, and it’s raining. Rain somehow still means the same thing as it did when you were younger—cancelled plans and disappointment and inconveniences. Except, you’re not a child anymore, so you find yourself alone at the end of another work day and listening to the raindrops on the roof, and worrying about things like loans, and other people, and what you’re ever going to do with your life.
And you realize that you can either handle the situation like an adult (alone with frozen pizza and Game of Thrones), or you can handle the situation like a child, and go swing.
This is how you swing:
- Find a good swingset. The location is important. You might try the beach. Or maybe a park with grass and trees and a basketball court. Not everyone belongs in the same place. Just make sure that, wherever you are, you can see the sky.
- Find a good swing. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to swings, so it might not be perfect. But as long as you can work with it, then it’s okay for now.
- If the swing is damp, you have a few options: you can flip the seat over to sit on the dry side; you can try to use your hand to wipe pools of raindrops away; you can sit on your jacket (which is tied around your waist, of course). Or you can just sit on the wet swing. Because it’s raining, and sometimes you just have to let rain be rain.
- Don’t worry about losing things like your keys, your cell phone, or your dignity.
- Pump your legs. Your muscles won’t be used to it, so it might ache. You might feel it in your abs and your arms and your back, too. You might not be able to remember if you ever felt this kind of resistance in your muscles as a child, but don’t let that deter you. Just keep swinging.
- Build up callouses. You can’t live in a world of swings without some callouses.
- Lean backwards so that all you can see is sky.
Let the sky be wide open and full of good possibilities. Wonder why the sky is blue. Wonder how the earth suspends in space. Wonder how you came to live under this beautiful blue sky in this small corner of the universe.
Pretend that the ground and gravity do not exist, and that you’re not afraid of forever.
Know, in this moment, that you are small. And yet, believe that you are invincible and immortal, and that you can do good things.
- Don’t be afraid to jump.
Be afraid to jump, and then do it anyway.
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.