How to Get This Thing to Work

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)

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0 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post. I think one of the great myths of our time is that we believe we can be independent of others. Thanks for visual of swinging high together.

  2. Yes! I am a strong believer in the power of collaboration and support. It is possible to ride those swing solo, but the effort needed to achieve the same results negates a lot of the fun. When we work together there seems to be a stirring and spurring occurring which makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

  3. Hi, Flair! I don't know if you saw me ask you on Happiness Project blog if you'd like to be featured on my blog –, but wanted to ask you again here. And to say I love the swing analogy! I too am not the surrendering type, but am learning what a difference it makes. I write for women in their second act, starting over, moving on and managing change – hope to see you there!

    Jacqueline @