I can’t exactly figure out why there is so much hate in the world today, so much fighting, so much negativity. I got this great email that showed various pictures of people doing heroic deeds that were completely unrelated and happened to be caught on cameras and then someone assembled them all into one email and sent it around. It was meant to inspire hope and show that people are still good at their core, but then you turn on the TV or just look at any string of comments on any YouTube post and you wonder when people became so snarky and vicious. At some point, we learned all of this stuff. And somewhere, in a bunch of people’s minds, they linked up that all of this awful behavior is somehow appropriate.
Do you ever stop and think how we all got like that? Do you ever yearn for a simpler time? Do you ever look at a bunch of kids playing in a park and just see pure and total joy?
Before prejudice is taught, there is happiness. Before our differences are pointed out, we are grateful to all be the same. Perhaps it is just a basic need to have someone to play with during recess, but there is a simple truth in watching kids get along.
Some adults will say, “well, they just don’t know any better.” I actually think they know a lot better than us. How is it that when people start to be taught to judge and turn against one another that it can possibly be called “knowing better?” That is pretty awful when you think about it.
I think sometimes we should all take the example of kids on a playground and try to live with that kind of excitement and that kind of laughter and that kind of joy. Think back to when the worst thing that ever happened was you fell down and skinned your knee because you were actually having too much fun. Remember those days?
Sometimes I wish the world leaders would take 15 minutes from their Summits and just play Kick Ball. How about we tie the Senate and the Congress together and make them do 3-legged Races all over Capital Hill. Instead of giving people parking tickets, let’s give them sidewalk chalk and encourage them to draw what makes them happiest.
Kids sometimes just have it so right.
So I’d like to propose something. July 4th is coming up: a day of pride and pomp and booze. People died for our independence. They died in the pursuit of our happiness, so let’s honor them for that by actually being happy. Let’s go back to being a kid but give it that adult twist. I find that any time as an adult I do something that I did as a kid, I enjoy it even more.
Since many of us will be at picnics and barbeques, and I know I will end up at a bar or two, I propose we play a new game that I call “Pub Pub Goose.” The rules are simple. Go into a bar, start walking around smiling at people, and then tap them on the head.
Walk to the next person, slowly, and make your move.
And again to the person beside her.
You can skip a couple of people if you want to mix it up a bit.
Definitely go to the person sitting on their own.
And when you think you have a straight open path to get all the way around the bar or back to the Juke Box or to the DJ booth (please be careful of the dart board), then make your move.
“GOOSE!” and Run like hell.
If they don’t follow you the first time, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play full out. You should still run like hell. Don’t look back. Keep focused. Navigate that path to freedom. Stick your tongue out to one side if it makes you think better. Get back to the starting point. And when you do, jump up and down and enjoy your success. You made it. You have won. Phew!
Some people might be looking at you strangely. Why? What’s wrong with THEM? They know the rules. This isn’t the first time they have played this game. So begin again with the same person. They’ll catch on.
This is fun.
I can outrun her. She’s wearing heels.
He’s handsome. Maybe if I run slowly, he’ll catch me and I can get his number.
Why is he alone at the bar? Maybe he needs a friend.
Run and run and really mean it as you dash as fast as you can, being mindful of the pool table and the peanut shells on the floor.
Did you beat him? Since people are still dusting off their old “play mode” you might want to acquiesce for this first round and buy that guy who didn’t catch you but actually attempted a shot. Nothing lethal. This game might go on for a while. Just something nice and delicious with a sugar rim that will start the ball rolling.
Now they know. The loser has to buy a shot for the winner. Nice reward. Who wouldn’t want to play that game?
Buy him the shot and give the game over to him. It is now his turn. You take your place next to the cigarette machine and watch as the afternoon changes. Let people play for a while and just see how the smiles start to reappear on people’s faces. These are the smiles that people honestly forgot were inside of them. These are the kids that got locked away sometime around 5th grade and told never to come out again because we were learning how to judge and how to look tough and how to buck the system instead of realizing that we were just shutting down part of our capacity to have fun.
If the game falls short, start another round. If people don’t catch on, keep playing it yourself. And if they keep staring at you like a freak, remember, you are the one having a great time playing a game. It just sucks for them that they are getting in their own way and preventing themselves from having a blast. They are stopping themselves from actually being Free. And isn’t that what July 4th is all about, Freedom?
So be free this July 4th. If it makes you feel better, get some friends to play it with you at the bar. Enlist people to help it grow. Make it a regular thing. Go from bar to bar and just make people smile. Leave all of the judgment and crisis outside in the parking lot. If you are worried about making a fool of yourself, rest assured that several people at the bar are way ahead of you judging by the empty beer bottles sitting in front of them so just figure that you are getting the party started early.
Go back to that time when you couldn’t wait for recess. Think back to when playing jacks was actually interesting and you dared to eat that awful stick of gum that came with your trading cards. Go back to the time of “not knowing any better.”
And I bet skinning your knee won’t seem like such a big deal this go around.