I had a pair of homemade wooden stilts as a kid, the feet rests worn smooth from use. When I first got them, I fell a lot. Let's face it, walking on stilts is an acquired skill. You're up, down, then up again. You loose your balance, take an unexpected tumble, get bruised, and climb back on.
I took them camping, where I practiced walking over the campfire. I dragged them down to the creek, where I picked my way across from one side to the other while neighbor kids bet on how often I'd wipe out. I even recall walking to the corner store with them to buy ice cream.
My sister thought I was crazy, especially when I came home cut or bruised. She'd roll her eyes and say, "What's the point?"
I had trouble explaining their appeal, my need to strap them on every morning and go for a stroll. Today I understand what made them so compelling, though. Beyond the joy of mastering something bigger than myself, it was the infinite feeling of possibility they gave me.
This past weekend, my kids were given a pair of old drywall stilts and they were a hit. Every kid at Grandma's thanksgiving dinner wanted to try them, and every kid who did wiped out big-time. We broke out the band-aids, the Ozonol, the ice packs, but nothing would stop them. (I myself didn't strap them on -- I may be nostalgic here, folks, but I'm not stupid). At one point, I looked up at my youngest, took his hand, and said, "How's the air up there, buddy?"
"Real good!" he replied. "Mom, they make me feel like I can do anything!" And I smiled, because the writer in me understood exactly where he was coming from.