On Swinging

Although highly inspired by Playwork, Forest School, Reggio Emilia, and other emergent and alternative educational models, we are by no means inherently opposed to conventional playground spaces. We especially love swings and the joy that comes from swinging, be it in pushing kids or swinging ourselves, remembering swinging as kids but still enjoying it as grownups.
When I am swinging, making the effort to get higher and higher, gives me feelings of emotional ascention that parallel the physical activity itself! It makes me feel like I can do anything. I return to a source of deep excitement I have about life. I enter into a realm of imagination that is confidence-giving. I think of the outrageous dreams and ambitions I had as a kid and they suddenly seem vivid again.

As I child I remember daydreaming as I still do, while swinging higher and higher, about being an adventurer on my boat about to enter into a port city flanked by the masts of tall and beautiful ships of teak and gold. It is an ancient port city, but filled with modern possibility and knowledge. The streets are full of people overjoyed by my presence. Maybe there will be a parade at some point. I will not rule the city-state in spite of my popularity there, though, because I am only passing through. Beyond it there are more places like it, of similar vividness but full of even more different possibilities. I will return to my small vessel and fill it with all the treasures I’ve collected. Maybe it will fly, eventually, as I’m going along my way, lifted out of the water by a gale wind to discover its own wings. Maybe I will leave this world altogether, on it. And if I do, I will surely return to my slowing swing in the conventional city playground, here in Montreal, and feel my feet scrape against the indentation in the ground beneath the swing as I halt the swaying quickly enough to snap myself out of the dream. I will carry the best of the dream with me, though. It will help ground me in my life of responsibility and adulthood.





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