In memory of Reuben Summerlin, a man who never lost his inner kid.
On playgrounds around the world children and adults have very different experiences. The kids are running, climbing, jumping, and laughing. They’re using their imaginations to turn the playset into a castle or a volcano or a pirate ship. They’re pumping their little legs as hard as they can to get those swings up to the clouds. They roughhouse with their friends and make human pyramids. Watch a kid having fun on a playground and you’ll see true joy.
We parents, on the other hand…. We stand next to the playgrounds chatting among ourselves about school systems or politics or the cute whatever we just picked up at Target. We’re checking messages or scrolling through our Facebook feeds. If our kids are younger we might be hovering behind them with concerned looks on our faces, waiting for the moment any amount of perceived danger might arise. Or perhaps we recently heard a scary news story so we’re scanning the other adults at the playground trying to spot a potential predator. We adults really know how to have a good time, don’t we?
Don’t you just miss it sometimes? Do you ever have an urge to run around that playground flailing your arms like a maniac? Zip down the slide, fly to the clouds on a swing, climb that spider-web tower thing so you can get to the top and yell “I’m the king of the world!”
I do…but then I don’t want to look stupid. Or hurt my bad knee. Or get that gross queasy feeling that now comes over me with any amount of repetitive swinging motion. Somewhere along our march to maturity most of us let go of that innate ability to simply play, be silly and go a little goofball for a while. When did we get so serious?
The sand dunes outside of Santa Cruz de la Sierra is one place to find that inner kid again. I know I did. Our family set out for Parque Lomas de Arena on a sunny Sunday with our friends Misty, Marco and Julie and all of our kids. The drive out there was like an amusement park ride in and of itself. Our two 4-wheel drive vehicles, one driven by Brian and the other by Julie, started off on paved streets in Santa Cruz. However, within minutes we were bouncing through massive holes in the dirt roads, splashing through huge puddles, and on a couple occasions fording through streams with water coming over the hood of the cars. At times the water looked so deep and mucky that we had to find a high path around it, giving literal meaning to the phrase “taking the high road.” I rode with Julie and was seriously impressed with the woman’s driving skills. She could have a future as an off-road racer.
When we stopped the cars, the massive dunes of sand loomed above us. After panting our way up to the top, we took in the view of the surrounding wetlands and the treacherous road we’d come in on. Santa Cruz de la Sierra stood in the distance on one side, lush green fields separated by more sand dunes lay on the other. It wasn’t long before the jumping, running and childish behavior began for all of us.
It was a fun day. As the sun began to set, I could already feel the tiredness in my legs and back from scrambling through the deep sand and holding up the weight of kids in our pyramids. But it was a good tired. A tired that said, “I acted like a kid today.”