Over a decade ago, I attended a week of training in San Francisco led by a pioneer in creativity coaching. The goal was getting certified to lead creativity circles.
One of the exercises at this training was to see what I could do with six pipe cleaners in one minute.
I made a swing set, modeled after the kind you’d see anchored in a back yard. I tried to capture the whimsy of a child’s view of life and motion, the feeling of moving in air.
My life went in another direction, but I kept the swing set.
Lately, I have been looking a lot at my purposefully tangled creation of orange, yellow, pink and gold fuzz covered wires.
It’s swing time.
I know the amount of daylight time is increasing.
Every year, in the northern hemisphere, the hours in which the sun can be seen during the day expands from December 21st to the 21st of June — and shrinks, in the same proportion, as we approach the start of winter.
These dates are special, almost magical, to me. It’s not like commemorating a birthday or anniversary or a bank holiday established by government decree so that people can have a long weekend.
These solstice dates actually mean something in the life of our planet, in our configuration within our solar system.
I’m fascinated by the idea that something so weighty and stubborn as time (the amount of daylight hours) changes direction. It seems impossible and perfect at the same time. Isn’t that the way of most things, swinging between different positions?
I didn’t develop a career as creativity coach after I took the certification program. I don’t think most people imagined “coaching” would be the “thing” it is today. Now, there are “coaches” that help people in all range of pursuits, from memoir writing to organizing closets.
People used to want to work for a big company; enjoy paid holidays and tuition reimbursement programs and all. Now people seem to value their independence and look for ways to maximize family time and minimize commuting time.
During my twenties, when I held several positions in data comm sales, companies were always alternating between different go-to-market strategies, flip-flopping between selling direct to consumers and through dealers and distributors.
We‘ve gotten accustomed to reversals in politics. We practically assume a newly elected president’s party will lose the majority in the House at the next mid-term election. As citizens, we go between wanting limited government and wanting a stronger safety net.
Is “swinging” simply propelled by the human tendency to want the things we don’t feel we currently have? Are people misguided in applying most of their energy into acquiring something perceived to be lacking rather than on maintaining what is known to be of value?
So much has been said about the importance of BALANCE in achieving mental health. The pandemic has forced people to revisit commitments to family life after years of placing career goals first.
Maybe the idea of reaching a balance, a state of equilibrium that can be sustained, is naïve. How can we keep our lives steady when the world around us, when time itself, is always moving?
Maybe the best we can do is check in with ourselves, moment by moment, and adjust.
The aim of our time on the playground of life is not to avoid skinned knees or fights with bullies or to be able to claim we spent time hanging from every available apparatus. The goal is not about making a soft landing after going airborne.
Simply swinging, and enjoying it, is no small thing.
Re-printed with permission.