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Being 10

Yesterday I rode on a swing for the first time in longer than I can remember. Once I got past the initial queasiness brought on by my adult-onset motion intolerance, I closed my eyes and imagined being 10 again…my stomach settled instantly.

Do you remember being 10? That fabulous year just prior to puberty when you had gained enough knowledge of the world to begin to be independent but not so much that you had any fears of reality yet. My great pride on my tenth birthday was acquiring my first watch, a Timex with a blue face. I went around telling everyone the time every moment of the day for weeks afterward. When I finished opening my presents, my sister asked me to try to spell “antidisestablishmentarianism”, which I did flawlessly, not having any idea what it meant. In fact, it hasn’t been until today when I just looked it up that I found out that it was the longest accepted word in the English language at the time (28 letters, in case you don’t feel like counting), referring to the group who opposed a separation of church and state during the 19th century. I still count spelling that word as one of the great accomplishments of my life. You’re right–I haven’t come too far since then.

Not having kids myself, I have acquired some surrogate 10-year-olds of late; a pair of girls who have taken a great interest in dogs and because I was willing to sacrifice mine to their whims (actually, I’m willing to sacrifice my dogs to just about anyone who is willing to entertain them for a while), mine were their first “victims”. A summer filled with dressing them up, teaching them tricks in the hot afternoon sun, and a couple of full-out birthday parties, and my dogs have been socialized to their hearts’ content. These kids have no fear, are full of curiosity, and have no idea what is in store for them over the next few years. It is truly the end of their innocence. But in their presence, mine has been renewed.

As I swung away trying to remember how to “pump” the swing (alas, my legs are a little longer than they used to be — but only a little), I was reminded not to take my life so seriously. I’m not sure our lives get any more dire than they were at 10 years old, but our perception of them does. We start to see each event as some means to our end instead of looking at it for what it is in that very moment, worried about whether we’re doing everything right.

There is no right or wrong way to swing through this world, and neither do we need to keep pumping our legs. Sometimes you just gotta ride……

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