Kick forward, pull back. Kick forward, pull back. Kick forward, pull back. It’s easy. Back and forth, up and down. There is something about sitting on that black leather seat and grabbing hold of those two rusty chains that demolishes every fear and every worry. No matter your profession, your stresses, or your pride, walking toward the swing set, letting your hair down, and kicking off your shoes liberates you from the life you live, the responsibilities you have. We were once on the same playing field, all of us. It didn’t matter what car your parents drove to the park that day or what you were eating at the picnic table, we were all kids and that old rusty swing set was the heartbeat of the playground we crawled all over.
It’s the place where we all figured out what kind of person we were. For me, I was fearless. I wanted to be at the top. I wanted to go so high that my butt bounced off as I came back down. I wanted to be above everyone else and when I jumped off, I wanted to be further than any other kid on that playground. I wanted to leave my mark. Some days.
And other days, I wanted less. I wanted to have my feet in the sand, I wanted to be closer to the ground where I knew it was safe. I wanted to lean backwards and know that I was taking a risk but not one that could hurt me.
That swing set helped me understand that there is nothing wrong with aiming for the stars, for taking a risk, and letting loose. But it also taught me that you can be low key too. You don’t have to be on top of the world forever. In fact, you can leave your mark just as well from home base as you can a yard from the swing. Either way, your mark was left. I am still very much that same person today. Some days, I have no problem hopping on life’s swing set and kicking my feet as hard as I can, maybe leaning backward while I’m in the clouds. Some days I need that thrill in order to know that I am alive and that God put me on this Earth to make a difference. And some days, I want to put my hair up and draw lines in the sand. Some days I want to fly so far off the seat that it rocks back and forth until the next kid comes along. And some days I want to be able to just stand up and walk away still knowing that at least the next person who has a seat will see my footsteps in the sand and know that I was there.
When we wake up in the morning, we have to decide which way we want to approach the swing set of life. We have to decide which strategy will make the most difference. Will leaving a thrilling legacy change the world or will one simple mark inspire someone? It’s impossible to know so for now, we have to approach life as we each do the playground centerpiece: kick off our shoes and enjoy the ride. There is nothing wrong with having your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.