Tonight, we went to my old elementary school playground after eating dinner with my mom and her fiance. The nostalgia alone is always incredible. Granted quite a few pieces of equipment have been removed or updated in the last 20 years, but still nostalgic none the less.
Mom and I were reminiscing about all of the “tricks” we used to do with friends on the swing set that were the pinnacle of fun. Now as adults we realize how dumb/dangerous most of them actually were. Sorry, to all my former teachers! One of my favorite tricks was doing a backflip off the swing. In case you’ve never attempted something so cool (or dumb, perspective), the basic technique is to scoot your booty to the end of the swing and gain just enough height to kick your legs up and over your head, landing on the ground in front of you.
There are a few key factors: Always keep your eye on the ground. Always. If you don’t know where your feet need to land, you will crash and get injured. Not that I know from experience or anything. The next key factor is: Fully commit to the backflip. 100% I-am-doing-this type of commitment. If you doubt yourself half-way through for fear of injury, you will absolutely be injured. You can be scared. Please hear me say that! Being afraid is not the issue here. Letting the fear cripple you in the middle of the flip is where you are in danger of being hurt! So, take a deep breath, keep your eye always on the ground, commit and enjoy the rush of adrenaline as you claim cool-kid status. Or just enjoy it for fun. Again, perspective.
I stared at the email on my computer, the words “Schedule Your Interview” flashed black and white across the screen. Was this real life? I have dreamed for two whole years of this opportunity and suddenly, things seemed to be leaning wildly in my favor! Shock turned into excitement which quickly faded into fear (an unfortunate trait of mine.) What if I actually get this internship? Will I finally feel like a “real writer”? There is a lot of responsibility and a lot of words required for this position and I am not sure my brain can conjure up enough. Maybe I’m in over my head because I know I am way under-qualified for such a job. Breathe.
I feel myself headed down the spiral, following the rabbit of anxiety deeper into a hole where nothing makes sense, and everything feels dangerous. After considering emailing back a “thanks but never mind” and running for my bedroom covers, I close my eyes and remember why I applied to begin with. An opportunity to work with an author I look up to, to be mentored in life, the writing industry, and to make friends with other women who love writing as much as I do. I open the file, choose a date that works and send my reply.
I text my husband in celebration that I am actually doing this. He replies with an affirmation and a “I just called Nana and she’s watching the kids for you that day.” I am fully committing, and my feet are grounded. Relief.
I haven’t attempted a backflip off a swing in well over 10 years. Maybe longer? But tonight, I feel the muscle memory as we explain the trick to the little ones burying toes into the recycled-tire mulch surrounding the swing set. I’m gonna try it. I scoot forward in the swing, pumping my legs a little harder till I feel like I’ve reached perfect height. With my eyes focused firmly on my feet, I whisper-remind myself to commit. I feel my legs swing up over my head as my gaze locks onto the ground, confirming for my feet where to land. As I stand up, I breathe for the first time (did I always hold my breath as a kid? I don’t remember) and silently thank the good Lord above that for once, coordination was in my favor.
I think I impressed my kids, but I know I fully impressed myself. Not just for nailing the trick, but for committing to try a hard thing, for choosing fun over fear this time. I watch the white rabbit in my mind bound off into the woods and tonight, I turn around, joining my kids in their wild imagination fun.