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Lessons from the playground

February 2, 2010
The jungle gym always has a few awkwardly-hanging, uninitiated kids on display. And for every kid that struggles with his grip, there is that delightful lot of onlookers who point and laugh and mimic and call out really creative names…until they run out of ideas at least. But there is also always that wiseguy. The smartass who hangs upside down from the top. The guy who swings back and forth and catches on to new bars. And does a whole new circus routine on them. You’d think he came out of a monkey.
This guy loves the strugglers. They make his day. They give him a reason to yell out “You dickheads! You don’t know s***. Watch me! See how cool my grip is? Look how stupidly your legs are placed! Idiots!”
Now some strugglers hate this guy from the minute they spot him swinging from the top. They start pulling some tame stunts while he’s around. You know, make sure he doesn’t get a reason to say anything. Make sure the pointers don’t catch an embarrassing moment. Make sure their pants don’t get ripped. Tame is safe. Tame is good. Tame is never threatening. Tame protects the status quo. Hell tame protects their pants. The struggling can happen when he’s not around. When no one’s around maybe? In peace. They can concentrate when they’re left alone and do all that they need to do with the sheer strength of their ‘potential’. Yes, that’s a better plan.
The others however kinda can’t wait to monkey around. They try catching his moves. They yell out to him and go “but what’s wrong with my moves? I’m doing the same thing as you?” And he can’t resist showing them the right ones.
Soon enough, the wannabe monkeys start getting the hang of it. Literally.
Every visible desire to learn, if only through failing, evokes another desire to teach. Mentors are born out of human connections. And you know what follows.
More conversations happen. Insults are bestowed. New games get invented.
Dangerous leaps are taken.
The Jungle Gym is owned.
Everyone learns the ropes of the game. Few swing like a monkey.
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 4:38 PM

    This is brilliant stuff. Insightful without being preachy. You’ve used the analogy really well – it’s a great way to make a difficult point.

  2. robertfrust permalink
    June 5, 2010 12:18 PM

    Ritwik and I were talking about something last night and he mentioned this post. I just re-read it and it’s still really insightful 🙂

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