Back in the days when Dinah Shore ruled the talk shows and a peculiar obsession with Bobby Goldsboro throbbed in my strange little five-year-old heart, I learned to swing in the playground of Alief Elementary School. Shunning the picnic my mother brought for us to have that sweltering Houston afternoon, I reveled in the wind in my hair, the sun on my shoulders, and the thrilling surge in my stomach each time I reached the zenith of my arc.
Later my shoulders blistered into a spectacular display of proof that Just Because You’re Moving Doesn’t Mean The Sun’s Rays Can’t Burn You, but my elation at the discovery that I could propel myself on the swing with just a little pistoning effort was undaunted. I was hooked. Nowadays playgrounds are massive creations of steel and plastic, bedecked with an array of goodies to tempt even the most sedentary child, but give me the swingsets of my youth and I’ll be happy.
Impossibly simple, they stood alone to minimize possible swinger-pedestrian collisions, and also to maximize the amount of air time possible for those brave souls who chose to take the sensation to the next level, leaping from their strip of rubber on the off chance that this time they just might sprout wings and shun the earth forever. Were the swingsets higher then, or was it just that I was smaller? The distance one could achieve from the ground was glorious and terrifying, hands gripping chain, mind wondering…really…what would it be like to loop the loop?
The chains always left my hands smelling ferrous and salty, two scents that still speak to me of summer and freedom, the blue sky above and the green earth below.
There is another swing that I found myself on many years ago; a far less wholesome sort, composed of hormones and circumstances, too much sugar and too little sleep. The pendulum swings wildly day by day and sometimes even hour by hour until I feel sickened by the motion. From dizzying heights it careens downward, spiralling for good measure, until it hits the sludge waiting at the bottom of the curve. From there it grinds almost to a halt, inching forward through the muck until, gasping, I emerge on the other side and begin the ascent once again.
The swing is labelled ALL OR NOTHING, and in both the trauma and the triumph I find a dazzling array of ever-changing labels as I pass through.
I AM MOST TRIUMPHANT……..I AM A COMPLETE LOSER…..
GOD IS GOOD……..GOD IS OUT TO GET ME……
LIFE IS WORTH LIVING……..LIFE IS TORTUROUS……
MY CHILDREN ARE BLESSINGS………WHY DID I LAY MY HEART SO WIDE OPEN TO PAIN?….
I’M GONNA BE JUST FINE…….I’M NEVER GONNA MAKE IT
This all-or-nothing mentality governs my life, yet half the time I fail to realize that I have once again climbed through the ropes and entered the ring with it before it is standing over me with my blood all over its gloves. KO’ed again, I wonder why I can’t just lay face down and give up the fight once and for all.
I know the Truth. I credit Him with the fact that the sludge doesn’t consume me entirely. But I’d like to think that one day I might sucker-punch the bastard devil dancing over me and win the heavyweight championship title of RATIONALITY.
It’s such a pretty belt. I just know it would look great on me.
Even here in blogdom I find the reigning champion lurking over me and dangling ultimatums in my face. If I can’t blog every day, why bother? I’ll just shut the damn thing down. Post whenever I get a chance, just for the joy of writing? haha! That would be far too reasonable.
There are days when I doubt my every conviction, wonder if I’ve ever heard the Lord speak, and stagger under the weight of my choices. I don’t know how to be more than a conquerer. I don’t know how to walk this road. I don’t know how to end this post.
I begged the Lord to make me stronger so I could live and fight another day. Yet I heard Him whisper something about boasting in my weakness…so I cling to the anchor of my soul, trusting, if nothing else, that He will not let me go flying off into empty space.