My Curious Encounter At The Playground

Openness Can Make For An Explosive Life

“Hi, my name is James. I wear this watch so that the police can find me in case I ever get lost or someone takes me. My friend Alice ran over a cat today. It was disgusting. Have you ever seen a squished cat before?”

I had just come down from atop a roped octagon jungle gym as a young boy from a nearby foster home introduced himself to my wife and I.

We take the kids to the playground near our home on Sunday mornings when everyone else in the neighborhood is at church or at Cracker Barrel (yeah, it’s either one or the other over here).

James looked smart and it had nothing to do with the flip notebook he was toting or the pencil tucked behind his ear.

I’d say he was about nine or ten, eleven max.

At that age, most kids are apprehensive about greeting adults they barely know. And in the event that they’re forced to, there’s typically no eye contact, a limp hand shake, and an inaudible “hello”.

But not James.

This old soul was a natural. He locked on to us from afar, walked up, introduced himself, and shamelessly poured out whatsoever he had in mind.

“My friends like basketball. Sometimes I play, but most of the times I just come to watch them. Alice brings us. She sits right over there under that big oak tree. She doesn’t care much for the sun, but she brings us anyways. I wear glasses because I can’t see much without them. Do you guys come here a lot?”

We tried to get a word in here and there, but James had the floor. And something tells me that’s exactly how it had to be.

In those brief two minutes, before his foster mom walked up and apologized for his “imprudence”, I learned more honest-to-goodness-truth about this little fro-hawked stranger than I ever could’ve in ten minutes with an adult.

What if we could open ourselves up like James? Say what’s on our minds without worrying about the backlash?

What if we could bring down our guards and grant our little corner of the galaxy a peek into our rawest, most truest self? Holding nothing back.

Unfazed by our skewed perception of the world and the people living in it.

Free to express every square inch of our soul. As lit up or as dim as it may be.

This is where I long to be as a writer, as a professional, and as a human. Fully exposed, moment to moment. Raw and uncut.

I imagine that it would make for an insanely explosive life.

Like the one I hope James will someday get to experience.

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