See-Sawing Through Life

I woke up today thinking about see-saws.

When I was a kid, playgrounds were filled with items designed to provide lots of laughs and potential injuries.  Apparently, cause and effect were still new concepts in the 1970s.  The playground at my elementary school had swings, a trapeze bar, all kinds of bars from which to penny-drop, a Giant’s Stride, a merry-go-round, and a see-saw.  The number of times I nearly did myself in on that playground is too vast to list.  More importantly, I’ve forgotten most of those bloody trips to the school nurse.  But, my near-death experiences by see-saw remain with me.  Those moments as I see-sawed through life on a dangerous trajectory, still fill my dreams with sensations of both flying and falling.

There is something amazing about the combination of trust, gravity, speed, and fun that makes the see-saw so delightful for children of all ages.  Can we balance this thing?  Do two first graders weigh the same as Olaf, the only fifth grader to repeat every grade twice?  If Suzie, who out-weighs me by 100 pounds, jumps off, how likely am I to bite my tongue clean off?

I woke up today thinking about see-saws.

Why do the highs of life seem to be so immediately connected to the lows?  One second my kids are playing perfectly happily together and the next there is warfare being waged over whose Legos were knocked over.  I can be feeling quite happy about life, liberty and my pursuit of happiness and then I open the dryer only to find the remnants of Applebee’s freebie crayons all over the dryer’s innards.  The romance of Valentine’s Day is suddenly dashed by a fight over who was supposed to pick up the dry-cleaning or take out the garbage or whatever.

I woke up today thinking about see-saws.

One Twitter friend is tweeting about a new house or a new baby or a new book.  Another is tweeting about cancer or a dying parent or a foreclosure.  The news out of Egypt gives one a small sense of hope.  The news out of Bahrain leaves us with a terrible feeling in the pit of our collective stomach.

I woke up today thinking about see-saws.

I crave neither end of any spectrum, but instead find myself inching toward that delicious center.  To be in the middle is to be safe, insulated, unexposed.

But the greatest highs as well as the deepest lows are where we feel our very humanity the strongest.  Sitting on the seat touching the ground, we dream of being airborne.  Without the crashes, filled with their blood-letting and pain, we never fully experience the freedom of flying…even if it is only for a moment.

I woke up today thinking of see-saws.

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5 thoughts on “See-Sawing Through Life

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention See-Sawing Through Life « Ten Minute Missive -- Topsy.com

  2. I find motherhood the most dramatic seesaw of all: the happiest perfect moments plunging to the ground with a hard smack in a millisecond as my 4 year old suddenly switches from a sweet adoring hug with his sister to shoving her to the ground….

    I could do with a little more middle ground…

    Great post!

  3. Beautiful essay, and so true. I’m drawn toward the center, myself, but force myself to take risks, craving some of those highs. When the inevitable crashes come…well, I just deal with it. 🙂

  4. See-saws fill me with a dread which is barely concealable – I’ve already caught my niece trying valiantly to pull herself up onto the monkey-bars designed for children three or four years older than she is, so the moment she discovers the wonders of see-saws I will probably have a massive heart attack at the mere thought of her careering wildly through the air, arms and legs flailing…

    That’s if there are any play areas left, with the increasing emphasis on health and safety forcing a lot of the existing parks to remove anything which poses even a slight risk to children.

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