Tag Archives: playgrounds

Four Square as Metaphor for Something

Last week, my significant and I went to a little get-together at a friends house. MJ is hostess with the mostess for lots of actors involved with Indy Fringe, which just wrapped up another successful run. (Indy Fringe is the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a riotous celebration of theatre “old and new,” edgy and not-so, that happens over ten days, August 19-28, 2011, in the Mass Ave Cultural District downtown.)
Not an evening about acting and theater, rather, a time to get together to relax for awhile. Until our new actor friend and whistle-blower, Rebecca, (maybe not an idealistic corporate do-gooder, but an authentic whistler who can put her blue-painted fingertips to her lips and effortlessly emit an eardrum-bleeding sound that can be heard for a mile, get mistaken for an air-raid siren, and make a zombified ruin of your brainpan) asked if anyone wanted to play four square. The warrior athlete within shouted “Yes!” After Pied-Pipering through the patio and house, Rebecca got us organized and started us drawing chalk lines while she went over the rules.
Listening to her, chalk in hand, a memory glimmered in. Frazier School. Third grade. Eight years old. Faded yellow four square lines painted on the asphalt. Kids in cacophony, standing in a wiggling line outside the square, one kid in full vibration mode per square. Caught up in it. Dreading the “baby,” a dribble that spelled instant ruin.
Third grade is so damn political. You could die a thousand different deaths on those playgrounds. Running wild like hellions with open mouths catching fly balls and flies. Or, defiantly entering the forbidden tube-shaped fire escape and scrambling to the top, sliding back down into a pile of sweaty, metallic-smelling kids, and being rewarded with a broken finger for the misdeed.
Busted. Getting sent to the Principals office. Being displayed on a hard chair in the busy hallway all afternoon. Cradling the hand with the finger that repeatedly insisted upon itself via discovery of its very own heartbeat. Dying inside as two fates fought it out for my fear. The current public humiliation versus what was in store later, when the parents found out. As they surely would. My very own sister, golden goddess of my idolatry, briefly made then broke an eyelock with me as I sat hot-faced in the hall of shame, telling me all I needed to know about my destiny.
So…after four decades, I was getting ready to go to the playground again. Funny thing is, I could hardly wait.

By the way, I firmly believe that when we are fully engaged in anything in life, when time passes such that we do not recognize it’s existence, in those moments or hours, we do not age. So add it up and subtract it out. Playing playground four square has not added a moment to the ticking time clock of the limits of my life. It has, instead, increased the richness of its fabric.

Do you have playground moments that have informed your adult moments of today? Have you experienced time-stopping events of full, enriching engagement? I want to know about them, and want to wish you moments of full engagement in your life, today and always.
P.S. To close the chapter on my broken-fingered fate of forty-three years ago, I went home and mostly told my mom myself. Instead of scolded, I got gently gathered up in her good smell, and we took my broken wingnut by car to the city. Got my first ex-ray, which hurt. Got a cast, which was cool. Next day, I ate with a spoon the look on the evil Teachers face when she got a load of the plastered finger I sported. In those days, sweet revenge.

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