The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
-Eleanor Roosevelt, 32nd-ish first lady and superhero.
Last weekend, a friend of mine trekked into the city from upstate. The weather was perfect, the city was glimmering, and we were determined to have fun for the short time she was on the island. Saturday morning, we took a walk down to Central Park, absorbing the sunshine and people-watching and dog-walking in the best possible way. As we entered deeper into the park, we continued passing playgrounds and swing sets, looking longingly at the fun that called out to be had.
After shuffling across thousands of fall leaves down the uneven path, we decided to finally stop for a swing. Carelessly throwing our bags next to the swing-set, we each hopped on a swing and started pumping our legs strong and fast, propelling us further and further into the air. We giggle and smiled as we flew through the crisp fall air, feeling the breeze in our hair, the brisk wind on our face, and the seemingly endless high we felt from our flying adventures.
As I glanced down the swing-set to the other pairs of swings, I realized a common phenomenon: only adults were swinging on this beautiful October afternoon! I felt shocked. Who are these people? Do they just come to the park to swing?
But then I realized: who told us we couldn’t swing? When do we officially get too old to stop playing? And why is it socially acceptable to make bowling or pool or Guitar Hero a communal event yet just playing outdoors seems juvenile?
And swing we did. It seems that as adults we lose a certain sense of play, a sense of play we desire and want, yet have limited manners in which to release this urge. Because in each of us exists an inner child, a kid who wants to finger-paint or play freeze dance or just hang from the monkey bars.
I didn’t feel like I was breaking an social norms, making any statements, or encouraging any radical life changes, yet my enthusiasm lasted for the rest of the day. I guess that sometimes we have to stop playing grown-up, remember who we used to be and who we are, and just swing it out!