My friend just emailed a picture of my daughter swinging on a glider swing with her daughter. On a glider swing, two friends sit back to back. The rhythm required to get the swing moving involves taking turns pulling up against the bar in front of you. If you both try to pump at the same time, you don’t move. It’s fun to watch children figure this concept out. You have to let the other person move, and then you move, and then it’s back to you, then back to them.
But it doesn’t work if you both pull in your own direction at the same time.
The irony of surrendering to your partner, of deferring to the other person, is that you end up swinging higher. You get the benefit of all her hard work. But it doesn’t seem fair. You have to resist the urge to be first, to control the whole gig. Those urges end up sabotaging you in the end.
The picture of my daughter on the glider swing reminds me to cooperate. It’s embarrassing how much I resist cooperation. I want to lead! I want to start it all! But you there at my back, with me the whole time, have a stake in this experience. What would happen if I saw us as truly interdependent, laced up at our backs, so that when you lead, I go higher? What if saw my labor as elevating you as well?
I’m not the surrendering type. I’m learning, when I look at this picture, to cooperate with what’s at my back (God, my husband, my dear neighborhood friend, my colleagues, and even my own daughters).
Let me work with you. That’s the way the swing works.
(beautiful photo courtesy of S. Velegol)