Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to the roots: playground

This was once white
I live in my hometown, so I don't really take vacation to visit the part of it where I grew up. Across the river and some streets and there I am. Any time. That is why most probably I never payed special attention to the changes that happen there. And perhaps for half of my life, I didn't really think about the memories that connect me to it.



Until this weekend, when I was lucky enough to spend a few hours there in the playground with my son. Nice warm winter day, a huge empty space and simple games with 2 years old boy opened my mind, digged into memories and I was seing pictures of my youth. And I'm sure that if I would have closed my eyes, I could here voices too. Voices and pictures of the times, when things were simple. There was no job to go to, no money to earn, no political problem I should pay attention to. Well, there was even no internet, can you imagine?

Every corner had a story or two that I knew of. A love story. A hate story. A dissapointment story. A success story. And there in that huge playground, on the warm days like this, it was crowded. People were playing ball, chatting, smiling and flirting. We had funny people, sporting people, weirdos and cudos. Hey, I might name a "gigolo" or two. But most of all, we had friendships. Some we followed, some followed us.

When my son disconnected me from my memories, I was back to reality. And it was hard to see the reality. Huge, empty space. No sporting people. No fun, no friendships, no weirdos, cudos and playing ball. Just a place that felt almost like a day after every human left the planet. On a sunny warm sunday.

What happened? People still live here in the very same appartment I was growing up. They have kids and their neighbors have kids. As it turns out, the playground became a dog-relief place. And noone really cares about it. People drive by, walk by and all they see is a huge, vast space that could also be used as a parking lot (I assume many people would like it to become that).

Sure, Facebook happened. And MySpace and Twitter and MSN and whatever other social network or game that keeps children safely in the house. But we all know, that Zuckerberg is not to blame for this. Internet is only an excuse.

The ugly truth is, we (people) happened. People that need to earn money. To buy a new car, go to an amazing vacation, buy our children a good education and safe future. So we don't have time to change our own environment to make it interesting for our kids. To make it worth their time and show them how interesting a ball can be.


This also goes for the second most used excuse - fear of the environment and where children will be when they're not safe at home on Facebook. Will they be on drugs? Or doing some crazy stunt they have seen on the internet? Sure, some will. But so will our kids if we don't take action and start changing things around. First, have a nice event and just play some ball. Like we did at our roots.