Do you remember the first time you swung on a swing? I don’t. I think I was pretty little though because I do remember at some point-not sitting on exactly it but lying across it, stomach down, making sure that my feet were touching the earth at all times.
The distance, from the ground to the swing itself I remember seemed so massive, and something in my little brain decided that sitting on the swing properly (assuming I could even get up there by myself) was just too much of a risk to take.
I don’t know how long it too for me to finally sit my bum on the thing, I do remember being pushed by my dad though, and while there was something comforting about that, there was also something rather terrifying as I worried that he didn’t quite see the magnitude of each push out and upwards into the heavens from the vantage point that I had as I was imagining, without the language of physics what the perfect angle, height and velocity might be which would turn me into a ….projectile, launched like evil Knievel out of a rocket, well in this case a swing, into the great unknown.
There is a British comedian named Russell Howard. He speaks of a word which might just be in the top 20 of all first words spoken by children. In a recent show, Howard was speaking of the experience of sliding down a slide-you remember-the stairs going up seemed so steep and the rungs always seemed too far apart-they felt like they were (of course they were) designed by adults who, had no understanding of the limited climbing abilities of toddlers.
And then there was the slide itself. Usually straight, (although I do remember the first time I had a go on a spiral one in Canada-but that’s another story) once you finally made it to the top, you’d look down at mum or dad below, and the slide seemed just so steep, and the desire to turn around and walk back down the rails was only quashed by the fear of falling off said rails. And so, fear firmly entrenched in the brain, you see that nothing is to be done and so embracing certain death- you push off….
---and then…something happens, as you’re plummeting to the earth, a face plant the least of your worries, a word, well a strange sound really spontaneously bellows from your throat…weeeeeee….. .
And then the minute you land-you struggle out of your parents or grandparents waiting arms and are running right back up to those terrifying stairs to do it all again.
Now, I’ve noticed, as I’ve gotten older, and taller that the slide isn’t quite as big as I remember, in fact I’m not sure I can even fit into one, but the swings are still around, and unless you’re living in a town where you’re not allowed to enter a playground without being accompanied by a child, they’re just hanging there, waiting for you to come play.
So…how about it-maybe when no one is looking, ride or walk to the park, hop in that seat and start swinging. Higher and higher you go, as your stomach swooshes with its childhood giggles and your throat emits an almost forgotten sound, the sound of joy, you’re just enjoying a perfect antidote to solastalgia.
Listen to this episode here or on itunes or spreaker