Recess was my best subject in school. I’d wait all morning for the shrill of the bell that signaled permission to tear out onto the blacktop and search for that day’s best friend. When we tired of jump rope, monkey bars and really bad jokes, we’d inevitably end up playing our all time favorite—TAG.
Reflecting back I now realize that it was one of the first laboratories for my relationships. It was on the playfield that I learned what I’d need for future networking in my business, how to blow off some of the steam that comes with stress, and it is also where I fine-tuned the rules for playing well with other adults.
All those fond memories came rushing back at me when I read in USA Today www.usatoday.com this week that all across the country schools are now banning the game of Tag (and touch football, soccer and dodge ball). Apparently the games upon which I’d been raised are now considered too dangerous for our children. Tag “progresses easily into slapping and hitting and pushing instead of just touching” I learned. Hhmmm. For eons children have been playing contact sports and yes, unfortunately, a scant few even end up injured with broken arms, bruises and dislocated body parts. What a minor price to pay given the rewards these games reap! And while I may not ever want to see my child injured, I’d be more than a little reluctant to take “You’re It!” out of their vocabulary.
I began to think about the message we’re sending our children (and ourselves) by insulating them; by teaching them that everything can hurt them and by fighting for their limitations. If we don’t teach them early on, then how will they learn to set decent and safe boundaries for themselves? or to negotiate a heated argument? or to physically restrain themselves at the height of the anger and frustration that can accompany competition? In a “Theory of Living” class perhaps?
Every day I work with highly successful, competent and socially aware adults who are, frankly, scared to death to try something, anything, new or to take any risks or to breach their self-made boundaries. They’ve learned somewhere along the way that life is scary, that security is worth its weight and that most chances aren’t worth taking.
Somewhere in mid-life they become aware that they are sad, depressed, angry and fearful. They come to me to undo that damage when they realize that while their lives are safe and secure and neat and predictable, they are bored beyond reason, void of passion and they’re dying their lives instead of living them.
I, for one have surrounded myself with very cool people who have chosen failure over regret—folks who have carefully weighed the scales on some new adventure or event and have concluded that life lived out loud, life in full bloom, beats the heck out of safety any day.