Watch the children.
Right outside my door is a running path that goes around a small pond, skirts the edge of two hospitals and eventually meanders past a pretty good-sized playground at the edge of a large market. The playground is usually full, other than school days and times.
I use this path daily, sometimes for just a few minutes but often for longer and though I am an inveterate cyclist I frown on the odd biker as this path is strictly for peds. I’ve walked and ran in the glorious Texas sunshine, cool misty mornings, cold winter afternoons and the odd rainstorm, rain feeling so good to these thirsty lands. Here’s what I typically see as I round the bend leading to the playground. Kids having fun.
In a world where social media has become so overwhelming we are losing our ability to socialize, and technology from hand-held devices to whole-house systems seems to be taking over our daily life I see neither at the playground.
I see kids running in that funny, loopy non-directional pattern they employ so well. As adults we “run” too thinking of our best time, using the proper gait, working out our breathing and so forth. Kids run and run and run until they can’t run anymore and then they fall down laughing wherever they are and ultimately get up and run again their cheeks rosy and flush.
They laugh, invent new games, tire as soon as the “rules” emerge and then invent another. Group leadership passes instantly from child to child as ideas emerge and are supported – or not – by action, crowd-funding at its most primal.
Kids stop to see why another kid is crying, they check on each other as they fall off the monkey bars (their parents hovering nearby “horrified” as the child experiences childhood and actually falls…) and often extend a small hand to help someone get up or to keep up as the endless running continues. And laughing. I don’t know if you’ve watched little kids lately but pull them away from a monitor and put them in a group and they laugh. A lot.
They scream, they yell, they shout encouragement and they keep going.
Tall kids play with short kids, fat kids play with skinny kids, kids with glasses play with those without and boys and girls roughly mix it up unconcerned with societal norms. I don’t think they really get “religion” or “politics” or “socio-economic status” and I can tell you black kids play with white kids who play with brown kids who play with red kids and every shade in between. Despite what some may be hearing at home on the playground there are no colors or lines, just other kids to play with.
Many of us are worried about the shift in the tenor of the times, our growing inability to speak with friends – or former friends – from other ends of the ideological spectrum. We have world conflicts, world hunger and world hubris as countries close their borders, eyes and ears telling others they are not welcome or needed. We have a lot of things on our minds and some of us are very concerned for the future. I am too.
But one thing I have and will continue to have is hope.
Every time I come round the corner – hearing the peals of laughter before I make the turn – and see these children playing randomly and completely I have hope.
These kids can show us every day our ability to interact with anyone, to be open to anyone and to work things out on the fly, together. Talk about hopeful.
When life gets a little over-bearing do yourself a favor and take a walk. And if you pass by a playground walk just a little slower letting the fresh enthusiasm for life kids share so openly seep into your senses a little. You too will have hope.
Hope for now, and for the future.