Melanie and I became friends in the cornfields of Indiana during college. We sealed our friendship with a trip to London together as part of a literature class. She's always been delightful, kind, and a beautiful writer. It's my pleasure to share her de(tale), the first of the year, with you today. Enjoy friends.
I was not born knowing how to do much. I keep that in mind. When I struggle with something new, I like to think about how there was a time when the most basic things I do with ease were foreign to me.
It was a vivid lesson in that wide-open landscape of possibilities and learning curves that followed college graduation – I found that I didn’t always know what to do – with not knowing what to do. I realized that sense of walking into unknown expanses is normal. There was a time I could not walk. No one knows what to do. We learn.
I remember so crisply a fall day my dad wanted me to learn to swing in our little backyard playground. The swing set framework rose sturdy, amid piles of escaped leaves. I loved to swing, but at this point my experience had been of someone else pushing me. What a breeze – it put wind against my face. A hand was always there on my back to send me flying again. I ran to that plastic, arched seat.
I was wearing a purple windbreaker and I was old enough to swing for myself. My dad carefully broke down for me how I needed to bend my legs behind me as I wound back and then keep them in front of me to sail forward. I wiggled and stared at the sky. He explained to me how I would gain momentum if I kept these motions consistent, swinging higher and faster, which were typically my requirements.
They are simple instructions, but not easy for a squirmy girl to follow. I had never felt what it was like to propel myself forward out of my own little might in that way.
I began to whine that it wasn’t working.
I still do.
I mean, I know how to swing by myself now. But when it’s time to set out on my own and it’s only up to me, to allow a gracious force to move me – to claim the space of being to keep trying – I still am tempted to turn away like a child in frustration if it isn’t working yet. Or if it’s hard. I still fidget in discomfort and the help of others can sound like another language.
I’m glad no one has to push me on the swing. I wouldn’t wait in a silly stink for someone to do it for me when I can pump my legs so freely. But when I was first introduced to the concept, I had no interest in it. I wanted to fly in ease without this labor. Why couldn’t my dad just keep pushing me?
What I didn’t understand was that he was.
"I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck." Annie Dillard
Melanie Boronow is a writer and young drifter of the Midwest. She has a degree in Creative Writing from Taylor University and spends her time learning how to build and love community in an urban setting and live out her adventurous introversion. She has recently landed in Indianapolis, Indiana – but has lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Upland, Indiana; London, England; Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Anderson, Indiana. She would love to connect with you via Instagram or Twitter .