Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Gift of Glide

I went roller-blading with my friend yesterday. As we were taking off our skates, she said, "Sometimes I wonder if God chuckles to himself and thinks, 'Well, I never expected that they would do THAT.'"

(Yeah, yeah, I know. He's omniscient. Humor me for now.)

I believe that God has given us some great gifts. The greatest and most important has to be Free Will, but there's also Creativity, Problem-Solving, Communication, Empathy, etc. I also think that one of those gifts is the love of Glide.

Unlike birds or dolphins or cheetahs, we're not engineered to be especially graceful or efficient in our movements. But despite our awkwardness, we, as a species, have this incredible urge to create new forms of movement that are faster or more elegant. We don't create these things out of necessity-- We do it for recreation, for enjoyment, for pleasure. We have created bicycles, skates, slides, sleds, skis, snowboards, wakeboards, sailboards, hang-gliders, parachutes, and trampolines because we love the sensation of movement. It gives us a rush. It makes us happy. It provides a feeling of wonder and adventure.

Do you remember being a little kid at recess? Do you remember swinging as high as you could, until you were even with the bar at the top of the swing set? Do you remember hanging off the side of the merry-go-round? Do you remember doing penny-drops or cartwheels? Did you learn how to spin on roller skates or do stunts on your bike? I don't remember much about elementary school, but I remember these things. I also remember learning to do back-dives and back-flips, and I remember doing crazy jumps off the diving board with my cousins-- over and over and OVER again. Of course we remember the things that we love.

My sister has severe brain damage. She can't talk or understand even basic words. She can feed herself, if you don't mind a huge mess, and she can walk, but clumsily and not very far. She absolutely loves to swing or spin. It makes her happy and it calms her down when she's upset. Our love of movement is basic and intrinsic.

In college, I rode my bike everywhere. It was partly a matter of convenience, but mostly I biked because it was just more fun than trudging along on foot. I loved riding with no hands, and I gradually mastered using my balance to turn so that I could ride the whole way to class without touching the handlebars. I love skiing because of the speed and the swooping sensation. It's like dancing with gravity. I love scuba because it's like flying, slowly, without wings. Everything is more graceful underwater.

So, yeah, I think God looks down at all the crazy, creative things we do, and says, "I'm glad I gave them Glide. That was GOOD."

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