the story of outer space and the shake-shake bridge

“We’re on a ‘venture!” she declares, loudly and bravely.  He is a few paces behind her, and once he’s reached me he follows up with the necessary info: “We’re going to outer space, Mom. And this is our rocket ship,” he tells me, indicating the glider swing upon which he hoisting himself, just next to his sister.  The story builds over time. I’m told that he is the little white dot (“Do you see me?) and that once he has finally landed on the moon, after careful consideration he finds it slimy to walk.

Today was a brave sort of day, a day of saying “yes” and I suppose that when you say yes, something is bound to rise up to meet you.  Either that, or your just have the eyes to see it better.  Being brave today  meant being outside.  The sun has not been to visit in days, and when the thick fog finally lifted after this weekend, the clouds just filled the void.  It is overcast and chilly, in the way that I’ve come to count on from winter.  It’s the kind of sky that dares you, almost, to come outside: “See if you can find some goodness here!” it taunts.  So being brave today means confronting that ominous gray and being in it’s space.

Boots, hats, jackets, and mittens that won’t stay on, times four, and I remember why this takes guts.  But the discouragement from getting it all together dissipates quickly with the first sharp breaths of cold air.  The familiar sting on the cheeks and the tightness in the chest only last a few minutes, and while I let the weight of the cold settle over me I watch the transformation in all of us. There’s something about getting outside, being in that open expanse of air and sky and earth never-ending that invites the imagination to mimic the landscape.  Though their play was entertaining in the comfortable confines of our family room, the Little Ones become more animated, their bodies reaching to explore the negative space of our backyard.

The adventure continued, and the Eldest described a new path: “Now, we’re on the shake-shake bridge” he narrated for my benefit, feet planted firmly on the glider swing, his arms creating waves of movement from the ropes downward. (You know, the shake-shake bridge, at the playground – with all the planks tied to each other, and it shakes and wobbles as you cross from one end to the other. The shake-shake bridge).

It’s days like today that set me straight.  The literal happenings, the actual doings are nothing particularly spectacular, nothing terribly out of the ordinary.  We were brave at times, yes, and had our ‘venture. Stepping out of the rocket ship, I wonder, what is the moon like?   Is it full of waking, and sleeping, but mostly waking and sorting it all out?  Is the adventure of moon walking about how to walk out love even when it’s “slimy” and you feel like you’re slipping, or getting stuck?  What sort of creatures are on the moon?  Are they friendly? Are we friendly?

And then there’s the shake-shake bridge.  Here’s the thing about the shake-shake bridge: it can be thrilling and terrifying all at the same time.  It shakes one way, then wobbles the other.  Your step is uncertain, and you overcompensate a bit with the next.  But you are never in danger.  The bridge isn’t going anywhere: it’s all part of the game.  And sometimes that’s just how it is – I get lost in the game, fearful of the unbalance, forgetting that I’m safe and secure the whole time.  The fun is in the twist and the wobble.

For all the running and jumping and swinging and sliding, for all the moon walking and rocketship-ing, it’s the story of being brave, and saying yes.  For all the ball throwing, and stick hunting, for all the mud stomping and dragon growling, it’s the story of freedom and fresh air.  It’s learning how to create a story worth living.  Today it’s the story of me, here on earth, pushing the Littlest in the swing with the rhythmic sway of gravity and the tides, watching that little white dot land on the moon.

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