Monkey Bars

Yesterday, I was sitting in my van in the line of cars waiting to pick up kids from school. Because of the parking lot setup, the line typically forms alongside a fence separating the playground from the lot. As I sat there, listening to the radio and enjoying a time when Ben was “tied down” (i.e., buckled in his carseat) and not into everything, a bright colored blur caught my eye. Turns out it was a little girl in a bright pink top attempting to cross on the monkey bars. Even from a distance, it was easy to see the strain in her arms and the grimace on her face. There were others playing all around her and another girl waiting on the side to cross next. The brightly-clad girl seemed not to notice anyone else, though, so focused on the task at hand. When she finally reached the end, she swung her feet forward to the platform leading to a slide and landed with a slight hop, clearly proud of her accomplishment. Then, as quickly as flipping a switch, she took off for the slide, skidded down and was off across the playground to yet another obstacle.
It occurred to me that this is how we spend most of our lives, straining and yearning with such intensity to accomplish something only to have a fleeting sense of pride that pales in comparison to the next feat ahead. Now, granted, the accomplishments along the way do tend to bolster confidence like bricks and mortar stacking up higher and higher. But what if we could savor the act of accomplishment longer, enjoying the experience in the moment, the feeling that right now we’re making something happen, we’re doing something that…while it may not bring world peace…is something we’ve never done before or something through which we can grow. Every aspect of life is not a task to check off. I’m sure there are many of us, myself included, who, all these years later, sometimes miss the monkey bars.

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