Everest and I have recently discovered a beautiful children’s book called “Ted Bear’s Magic Swing”, by Dianne Baker. It’s about a bear who takes time each day to swing after lunch because it helps him relax and makes his brain work better. I’m always attuned to stories and books that advocate for the importance of downtime as staying busy is one of the ways that we, as a culture, avoid ourselves and our feelings, especially during transitions. Here’s how the book begins:
Every day, after lunch, Ted Bear went to swing in his swing.
Now Ted Bear’s swing was a simple one, made of rope and a flat piece of wood. The ends of the rope were tied around a wonderful, thick branch of his favorite tree. And his favorite tree was in a quiet corner of the woods.
Ted Bear would swing – up and down, back and forth, high and low and high again – leaning his feet way out. He loved the way the wind blew first in his face, then at his back.
This was always a special time of day for Ted Bear – a time just for him. When he was in his swing, Ted Bear wouldn’t think about chores he had to do or places he needed to go. He would just look at the beautiful sky, the trees, and his feet. He would just swing.
Maybe it seems that Ted Bear had nothing to do all day except swing. But Ted Bear was really a very busy bear, with lots of chores to do and lots of places to go.
You see, Ted Bear was in charge of the honey supply for all the bears in the forest. He had to buy the honey from the bees, find a place to store it, and then make sure that all the bears got their share. It was a very important job!
But Ted Bear always got his work done, and had a very good time doing it. That was because of the magic in his swing.
One day some of the animals asked Ted Bear why he always seemed do happy and where he got all the wonderful ideas he was coming up with. Ted Bear scratched his head and thought a minute.
Finally, he said, “It has to be because I take time every day, just after lunch, to swing in my swing. Maybe you should try it too.”
But the animals just laughed. “We are all too busy to swing, Ted Bear. We have too much work to do.”
But Ted Bear knew something they didn’t know. He knew that swinging helped him relax, and relaxing helped his brain work better the other times of day.
“Too bad the other won’t try it,” he said. “I think they’d be surprised.”
The story continues and through a near-tragedy in the forest, the other animals come to realize how important it is to take time each day to swing. Swings are soon built all around the forest and everyone is not only happier, but also more efficient.
Imagine how different our culture would be if we took time each to swing: to be, to relax, to unwind, to let to, to breathe, to do nothing? As we enter the weekend, think about how you can unplug from the mindset of continually doing and staying busy and drop down into the quiet and still place inside you. And, even more importantly, as you re-enter the work week, think about how you can take time each day, perhaps after lunch, to relax in the way that feels nourishing to you.