Breakdown at the playground

Little Jack didn’t need a push. Impetus. Dizzy on the up-rush, he ran in.

First see, first play. To the jungle gym. Up the middle grid, to the tip top. Hinged knee swings like open doors. Hair flying round. Smiles seem like frowns. World upside down.

To the wobbly thing. Horse on a spring. Looked like fun, but it’s boring. So what.

To the wide slide. Singed finger pads on the climb up. The sun has done its part to make the latter hot. Caution to the wind, down the metal tube. Burned backside. Not so bad, but maybe not again.

To the sand box and the cutesy pie. Pink hair ribbon and a yellow bucket. Baking dirt cakes for pretend friends. Not quite so sweet. Unkeen to share with a real mate. Whack shovel smack. Run, get out of here.

What a great day, on the playground!


Jack standing, by the wayside. Same playground on another day. So many options, potential for mistakes. Better think it through to the end of play.

There’s the jungle gym. Could be fun. Upside-down. But then again. There’s the blood rush in the head. Could lose control or perspective. Why fall off, even bust a crown.

There’s the springy horse. Wobble to amuse. Or a humdrum mare with lackluster flair. Why waste time.

There’s the grand slide. Maybe glide down. Clearly the wrong size. Why get stuck, and be mortified.

There’s that fine girl, sitting right there.  Could cooperate. Maybe build a castle, with a moat and gate. Surely not her taste. Why make things awkward, completely lose face.

Life’s no playground.


So, what happened to little Jack, his impulsiveness and his joy for life?

He grew up. And along the way he learned to adopt a behavior pattern that many of us are familiar with:

  • feeling an inner impulse only to suppress it in the next millisecond
  • seeing all the way to the imaginary bad ending we fear will come instead being short-sighted and focused on the joy of beginning something new
  • paralyzing ourselves with the idea that we once we start something we aren’t permitted to stop and drop it to do something else if it isn’t what we expected
  • over-thinking our time on this playground that is life instead of playing joyfully

I like to call it “breakdown at the playground.”

Little Jack’s five tips for more fun on the playground:

  1. Follow your impulse to play.
    RUN onto the playground. DO NOT STAND there looking at all the options  from the sidelines.
  2. Do something fun.
    START DOING the thing that attracts you most right now. DON’T THINK it to death. Just follow your strongest inner impulse and do it.
  3. See what happens.
    Let yourself BE SURPRISED. You may find it’s everything or nothing like you expected. You may love it or hate it. But one thing’s for sure: it’s FOR REAL and not just your speculation about how it might be.
  4. Continue or try something else.
    If you like it, great. CONTINUE doing it until the impulse driving you subsides. If you don’t like it, MOVE ON to the next thing that seems most appealing in the next moment.
  5. Repeat
    KEEP COMING BACK to the playground. GET BETTER at trusting your inner impulses each time you play and reap the rewards.

And no matter what, remember not to take yourself too seriously. Life can be your playground, if you let it 😉

Until we meet again,


[Today’s blog post is dedicated to Martha, who loves this metaphor.]


One response to “Breakdown at the playground

  1. Some people never stop preparing to live, while others never stop living life, but it takes all kinds to make the salty ball spin. I think I’ll have a nap now, then play my guitar while singing horribly, then I think I’ll tackle the universe; watch out universe, I’ve got all night!

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