Sunday, September 13, 2009
Playing It Safe
I wear grubby clothes to the dog park – pants that can withstand muddy paws, shoes that don’t mind a little poop. It’s a good place for people to learn not to be so uptight.
Today a pretty, curly-haired lady wheeled into the dog park with her tiny dog and two small children in a jogging stroller. The kids were completely zipped in, protected from the world by a roof and walls of plastic and mesh.
The mom unzipped the front, allowing the kids a glimpse of the dogs and an occasional pat on one of their heads, but she told them, “No, you can’t get out. You can get out later at the kids' park.” What was she afraid of? Getting their clothes dirty? Being knocked over by a chihuahua? Running and playing in the grass?
I saw the older boy – about four years old – looking wistfully through the back window into the face of a friendly beagle. What was he being taught - to play it safe, at all costs?
In less than five minutes, the mom zipped the now-crying children back into their safe cocoon and headed for the kid’s park, where I wondered what safe activities they’d be allowed to do. George and I walked through the grass toward the car.
In the shade of a tree, George plopped down onto his belly to cool off. He often does this on hot days, and he roots around through the grass like a gopher, getting soaked in the process. I usually just stand there and laugh at him, but today I saw things differently. As a kid, I wouldn’t have hesitated to join him in the grass, but as an adult I don’t because I’d get my pants wet and would have a wet rear end for the ride home.
How many simple pleasures of life do we miss because we have excuses? We don’t sit in the grass because we’d get dirty. We don’t get our hair wet in the pool because we’d have to restyle it. We don’t let our kids play with the dogs because they might get knocked over.
Tired of people making excuses for living, I sat down with George on the grass. Yes, my legs got wet, but they’d dry. My pants got stained, but they’d wash. Today I sat in the grass in the park with George. How many people can say that?