Yesterday we were having lunch at a friend’s home and I was watching my son jump on their trampoline. Only he wasn’t just jumping on the trampoline… He was jumping onto the trampoline off the top of a limestone pier, in the boundary wall as a way of getting a bit of extra bounce. He had seen the bigger boys do it and in his own careful way he wanted to have a go too.
It was an activity that caused my wife to say ‘can you have a look and see what you think? It that an ok thing for him to be doing?’ She wasn’t sure whether she should worry or whether he was just ‘doing what boys do’. As a former ‘boy’ I checked out the situation and quickly affirmed that all was well. Yes it may be a little dangerous, and no we didn’t have dental insurance, but it definitely is what boys do. In fact I would suggest it’s important that boys (and girls) get to do these things and enjoy a little risk and adventure.
At 47 years old now I can remember some of the wild crazy things I did as a boy, and then a teenager, activities that stretched my courage, made my heart pound and my palms sweat. Paddling out in enormous surf at North Point in Cowaramup Bay as a 17 year old, only to get pounded repeatedly and washed back to shore, climbing trees higher and higher and higher simply because there was more tree left to climb, jumping off railway bridges into dark rivers below… I could go on and I’m sure you could make your own list.
That was all before the ‘safe police’ took over our world and pretty much outlawed anything that involved a minor chance of getting hurt. Of course an increasingly litigious society hasn’t helped the cause. Now it’s much more important to protect your butt than to give people room to have fun and adventure.
I remember too that as a young person the life of faith also looked much more appealing, adventurous and inspiring, but as I got older it began to look increasingly like a religious version of everyone else’s life. I was no longer inspired. I was disappointed. Angry even. It has taken me on a journey of asking what does it mean to follow Jesus and why did the life he lived and the life of the early Christians appear so inspiring while so much of what passes for faith today is so dull.
It was Jesus who said ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’
I am convinced he was onto something there. Sometimes the life we really seek is found by living counterintuitively and by doing the very things that may appear to be unsafe, unwise or plain foolish.
Maybe some of us need to climb the wall and get jumping on that trampoline again?..