Sunday, July 4, 2010

Everybody Pogo!

Country singer Keith Urban jumps for joy

As I finished walking Skyler around the lagoon and Grand Basin at Forest Park and was heading back to the car, my eye was caught by bright mango yellow shirts shooting into the air in a fit of randomness in the shade of tall oak trees.  Despite the July St. Louis heat, a group of grade school camp kids were all exhibiting their most energetic jumping jacks before hopping on their bikes for a spin around the park.

When did I stop jumping?  When was the last time that I flexed my knees and then propelled myself into the air like a rocket again and again?  Do I always have two feet planted firmly on the ground?  And why is that seen as a good thing?  I remember hot summer nights after dinner when all the kids in the neighborhood competed to see who could bounce the highest or the most times on our pogo stick.  Onetwothreefourfive . . . onehundredandfive . . .  We jumped without a moment’s thought to bad arches, or aching sacroiliac joints, or old knees.  We pogoed the length of our street and shot into the stratosphere with little concern for balance or control.

We just jumped again and again for the sensation of escaping gravity and flying into the air.  Even if just for an instant before we were yanked back to the reality of solid ground.  Jumping jacks.  Hurdles.  High jump bars in gym class.  Puddles. Tops of front stoops to the sidewalk. Ledges and fences.  Hardly a day passed that we didn’t launch our body into space and hang there for one . . . two beautiful seconds before we collided with the earth, but then brushed ourselves off and kept moving.

Did I stop jumping because I grew old and my joints began to ache?  Or did I stop long before that?  Did I just get too busy to think about jumping?

The other week at the gym I tried some tentative jumping jacks.  There was no mighty leap, legs and arms spread wide.  It was more a shuffle and a lifting of the heels, but not quite both feet off the ground simultaneously.  Before I even crouched for the attempt, the brain cringed and said, “You know this is going to hurt.  This is high impact aerobics.  Your feet will ache for a week.  Watch that your knee doesn’t give out when you touch down.  And what about your shoulder?  All that swinging up and down is definitely going to inflame that shoulder again.”

It’s no wonder with such anticipation of pain that I looked like an elephant attempting “Swan Lake” instead of someone jumping for joy.

My favorite performer, Keith Urban, has a moment in every concert – just when you think the show is over and he’s about to strike the last chord – that he regroups, ups the tempo, and starts leaping across the stage on an invisible pogo stick while shredding on his guitar.  Everyone in his band starts jumping like they’re twelve and it’s a warm summer evening.  Pretty soon 10,000 people in the audience are doing the best they can to keep up with him.  For those few seconds everyone is truly jumping for joy and with abandon.

How many other ways in an average day or week do I convince myself that I can’t “jump”?  In how many ways do I hold myself back from something that could be wonderful because that little voice keeps telling me that some pain will surely follow any leap into the air?  I let the landing mean more than the flying.

As you read this, I’ll be on my way to France.  I can predict any number of opportunities to leap.  For one, I have a car and a map and will navigate a solo trip to the Loire Valley.  And I can imagine the hurdles and cliffs I may trip over on the way, considering I speak very bad French.  But it seems as good a time as any to start focusing more on flying and less on landing with a painful thud.  “Just jump,” I’ll remind myself every time I encounter a fence or a puddle.  As my French friend Martine said to me, “C’est l’aventure!”

Keith Urban and Friends 

When was the last time both of your feet left the ground (literally or metaphorically)?  Share your best "jumps" in the comment box.


Marsha said...

I hadn't jumped in years until this spring when I started working out! The coach tried to get me to jump onto a wooden box.....I couldn't do it! Later I managed to jump up on the stadium steps holding on to the rail, then with no hands...the end product was a hurt ankle for weeks! I do love to jump rope and can do it pretty well! Makes me think of David Lee Roth in Van Halen...."Might as well jump".

Also, thanks for the "Keith pogo" and have a wonderful trip! We are expecting lots of blog reports!

Melinda said...

The pogo stick was challenging and fun, too! It was something to share with your friends or do by yourself. When was the last time I pogoed? Probably never thought it would be my last time......

Anonymous said...

J'aime la video de Keith et sa danse pogo. Merci pour le partage. Quelle énergie a cet homme !
I love the Keith's video and his pogo dance. Thank you for sharing it. What energy has this man!
Your friend Martine

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