Life is like a swing set

Ever so often we find that authors and storytellers create the most beautiful metaphors for the most complex and seemingly tragic parts of human life. They give us peace and meaning, where we thought there was none. Things happen in life, we enjoy, understand and flourish, but we also suffer, wonder and lose. Both are the ying and yang of life. So let me tell you this story:

One day, someone I know told me about something that happened in their life: Their dad was lying on his death bed and about to take his very last breaths, as they were holding his hands. And just as their father had died a few moments later, a scream of a newborn baby filled the aching silence. As soon as I was told this story, I remembered a story I had read a few years before that. I can not remember its exact name, but it was a German one inspired by “The Fault In Our Stars”. The quote from it below is freely translated:

In a way, life is like a swingset. I can’t continue swinging forever. […] No matter how hard you push off, if you stop putting power into the swing, it slows down and eventually stops swinging completely. Nothing lasts forever. But with the swing set it’s different. Even when it stops, there will always be someone one day through whom the swing starts moving again.

from a “The Fault In Our Stars” fanfiction

So what does this mean? – “Life is like a swingset”? Our whole life, we learn through experiences, we grow through both highs and lows just like a swing set swings up and down, too. It stands for the childlike innocence and the flow of life. But even in the face of death, when all the swinging and living we did all our life, follows us into our end, we see another meaning. The swing set is a metaphor for living but also fading life. Nothing stays or lasts permanently and we can’t hold on to a beloved person, a pet or phase of life forever. There will always come the day when we need to say farewell to them or goodbye to our younger self with love and compassion. But this is only one side of the story. One the other side of it, we don’t need to despair, for life has so much yet in store for us. There are endless possibilities in this world, who we could meet, who we could grow to love, who we could grow into. In the end, we grow through what we go through. Even the most painful moments or times in life made us the person we are today, in all our imperfections and little ideosyncracies. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are today. And “if you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello”, like Paul Coelho phrased it so accurately.

Looking back at the story I was told, I like to think that the universe was saying to the friend of mine. “Don’t lose heart, dear one, all is not lost, there is always more for you and this baby is the proof of it”. When you look at it from a spiritual angle, babies even stand for new beginnings and the discovery of new possibilities. So if you are faced with the realization that it’s time so say goodbye to someone or something, talk to yourself with compassion. Know that when something or someone seems to be taken from you, something new will always come to you and their legacy will carry on. Just like that saying going: “When a door shuts, a window opens” (Alexander Graham Bell). It is okay to be sad and grieve for about the closed door for a while, but it isn’t all about the fact of one thing leaving and another one coming. We need to develop the bravery to open our eyes to the new while carrying our old self, our troubles and our losses deep in the corners of our heart, as we are taking our very next steps in the journey of life. As a reminder of who we are and are yet to become.

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