I recently installed a full size competition-level trampoline in my garden, having left trampolining some forty-seven years ago. I used to be a keen trampolinist back in my gymnast/pole vaulter/diver days. It’s gradually coming back, though the fear factor is more pronounced these days. Everyone agrees that trampolining is fun (though strenuous) but what is the metaphysics of trampolining? As I happily bounce, I ponder this question–the bouncing philosopher. It has something to do with using gravity to defeat gravity: being both subject to gravity and free from it. And that is human life: bound freedom, spirit-in-matter. You come down, inexorably, but you go right up again, with a quick flex of the legs. Danger and possible death shadow your every bounce. You keep rebounding from an unstoppable downward force–up to heaven and then dragged down to earth again. Then there are the aerials, in which you twist and turn in the air–the weightless moments, the miraculous landings. But most of all it is the exhilarated dread: yes, you soar, but you might bounce off the edge at any time. You become very aware of the fragility of your neck. But you keep on bouncing anyway. What’s a neck in the larger scheme of things?
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