Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Leave Room for Whimsy

I think it’s safe to say that we as a culture lean further to the side of comedy than tragedy. Given a choice between watching Seinfeld re-runs and the epic film The Sorrow and the Pity, I’m pretty confident what most would choose. We’re much more inclined to say “Have a nice day” than “Look deep into your Soul.” And whereas funerals in Ghana are three days of weeping, drumming, dancing, rejoicing, we’re much more inclined to the short affair with a dash of somber, a tasty potluck and a sense of relief when we can get back to work, often on the same day. 

I get it. It’s hard emotional labor to look life squarely in the eye with all its terror  and horror. It’s backbreaking heavy lifting to watch the news with the outrage and deep grief it deserves. And who really gave us the proper exercises to be able to shoulder the weight of the world and still be able to walk to the nearest Starbucks for an expresso?

And I think that burden must feel particularly terrifying to our children. I joined the cheering throng sending our 8thgrade graduates off with the charge of saving the world, but hey, shouldn’t they leave some time to fret about pimples and the unreturned crush? Could we lower the bar just a bit and just ask them to not do anything too stupid and be a little bit kinder to their friends and classmates?

And so on down to the little ones. I’m not talking about pretending the weight isn’t there and thinking they don’t feel it. It is and they do. But they also deserve some time to build with legos for 3 hours without feeling that they have to build the future house of justice. They deserve the chance to be kids and leave the world-saving to the adults in charge.

And so today. I joined my daughter’s masked socially distance summer camp in Golden Gate Park with 6 of her 5thgrade students and how fun was that? We got to do some of the important things kids—and adults— need to do in-between the protest marches. Things like popping leaves. Rolling down hills. Running to statues and copying their shapes. Adding up points in my trivia questions related to the park. Most popular book besides the Bible? Nope, not Harry Potter, but Don Quixote and there’s the statue of Cervantes. Name of a flowering bush that rhymes with “photo-blend-in?” 10 points to the first kid to touch a Monterey cypress tree! And so on. 

So alongside life’s heavy serious matters, let’s remember to leave some room for whimsy. Life is short and lightness and laughter help.

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