I am an average, middle class, white American and I am missing out on life. Maybe you are too! Yes, many of us are active in our churches. Others sign up for various organized sporting leagues throughout the year. If you have grown up in one location, you probably have an established set of friends and family you interact with. However, in the scheme of things, one tends to be confined to a very small box, which is limiting the impact you have on others and others have on you. This box rarely allows us to go to our new next door neighbor and invite them over for dinner. This box insures that we don’t strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to us on a flight to California where, by the way, we are meeting up with others from our box. This box keeps us from even making eye contact with the person in front of us at the grocery check-out line. If we took time to look out of our boxes, we would find new people we might actually like know better; a place with so many interesting and beautiful shades of color that we might just realize our boxes are really quite dreary in their predictable browns.
Kids show us what we once were - people who openly craved and had random meaningful interaction. Take a kid to the park, and even if they don’t run up to someone and say, “Hi, can I play with you?” they will watch unabashedly while the other kids slide and swing and play. More often than not, another child welcomes that child with open arms and a wide smile. Kids have even been known to complain when they go to the park and find no other children in sight. Lucky for us box dwellers, we can lead by example and soon create offspring just like us – closet cravers of random meaningful interaction.
Did you know that there are pick-up games of basketball and soccer that are being played every single week at area parks? By word of mouth, you can learn what day and time to show up and play, or you might just stumble across a game in progress. There is usually a group of children and adults on the sidelines, hanging out laughing and sharing. Did I mention anyone can join? Boy, girl, adult, child. You don’t need to pay a fee, or wear a special outfit or belong to a certain organization. I have found one thing missing from these pick-up games: middle class, white America. Where are we? We are in our cramped little boxes, probably waiting for information to come in the mail about next year’s league fees and dates. People, we can get out THIS weekend and play. Bring someone from your box if it will make you feel better. I am blessed to be married to a Moldovan who spent almost everyday of his life, prior to America, playing soccer and basketball with whoever showed up, and he has, on occasion, taken my reluctant hand and pulled me out of my box. There really are advantages. More room to breathe and to learn and to experience and to thrive. Get out of the box.