Part II Smith’s Playground inspires years later
Reaching out with my right hand, I’d grab the metal ring. I would stand on my toes to pull it closer to the wooden platform I was balanced on. Gotta pull the ring back. Pull it so I can get the proper swing to the next ring. If you glide out without an extra pull, you’d fall short and drop to the ground, a failure.
I discovered the only way I could to swing correctly was to learn by trial and error. I must have swung out dozens of times to get the proper feel. I watched others and saw how graceful they looked. Like a Tarzan swinging from the vines, the white ape I wanted to emulate. (Did I tell you that Johnny Weissmuller, the original Tarzan, grew up a few blocks away from Smith’s’ Playground in North Philadelphia, where I was a child at play?)
There’s something about swinging that makes me feel in charge. — feel in control. Like I’m a master — a leader of all my thoughts, energies and physical movements.
There’s nothing like feeling the air breeze through the hair, feel the coolness on the face, the ears and the tips of the nose and lips. Reminds me of what it might be like jumping out of an airplane as a bona-fide paratrooper in the Army’s elite Airborne School. To feel so alone, yet so much in unity — like one with the universe — when you make that first “jump” into the air.
There, I made it to the second ring and now the momentum is carrying me forward. No time to think of what to do next. Simply do it! Reach out and grab the third ring and glide forward. Onto the next one and the next, until I reach the end and turn around to head back.
Have to remember to pace myself, not to “over swing” and get tired on reaching the end ring. I failed by trying too hard, pushing myself when I should have saved energy for the long haul. Confidence growing, I’d reach out, feeling my way back. I have actually seen myself accomplishing this task long before physically achieving it. Some will call this “visualization.” I did it as a kid. Is it something I sensed? Something I knew how to do from some innate knowledge?
The last ring was just ahead, I seemed to recall . It seems so easy now. But, it t0ok so long to reach. There were times I wanted to give up; I didn’t believe I’d be good enough, strong enough, or even brave enough to see it through to the end. And there I was.
Funny. I thought I’d feel more triumphant. Like there should be crowds cheering me on like I’m Caesar riding through the streets of a loud, boisterous Roman city.
Oh, I enjoyed the win. It was a thrill to finally make it. I’d feel great, and I think it helped ensure my future well-being. I felt I could do anything I set my mind to. But in some ways, I’d also feel it marked the start of a long process, like it was just the beginning of placing notches along a line of other achievements, other goals and even detrimental experiences that someone would dare me to try someday.
I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I only wished I could have taken more time to cherish this, to enjoy it while it was going on instead of gazing over the horizon to the next challenge.
I learned that that I needed to spend more time being in the moment. To Love the one moment I was in.
Like . . . right now.