On Sunday, we took Little Danger on a hike at a park we’d never been to. He was strapped to my back like Yoda, and kept patting both of my shoulders every so often to express his pleasure. Occasionally he would say “UUUUH!!!” to signify a desire for a sippy cup of water. But mostly, he enjoyed it.
At the end of the hike, we took him to the playground to let him run around and enjoy himself. It bears mentioning that we then encountered a tiny miniature Pinscher, 7 weeks old and small enough to hold in one hand. It was named “Colossus.” No shit, a gerbil sized Doberman with the most ironic name EVER.
Little Danger wandered into the mulch, looking at the playground equipment the way Indiana Jones looked at Tanis…with awe and wonder and a wry smirk. I sometimes, even on the 40ish side of my thirties, feel the echo of that wonder…a tug in my core that makes me want to swing on the monkey bars or rush headlong down the slide.
As he explored, with Wifefish walking along behind like a personal parachute of safety, a little girl came up and instinctively grabbed his hand in friendship. “Look at the cute baby,” she said. “Does he like the playground?” she asked Wifefish, the unspoken volumes in that simple question roaring in my ears.
May I play with him? Will he like me? Who is he? I will protect him! I will teach him like my big sister taught me! All of these concepts nebulous, not even distinct thoughts. Just an instinct…let me hold your hand, we are alike. A little dark skinned girl, perhaps 5, and a tiny little redheaded boy, not quite 14 months. Two children, instantly gifting trust and curiosity. It was the most natural thing, as well it should be.
I have, in my life, been betrayed by people and tossed aside by “friends”. I have failed at times to be the man I want to be, and perhaps have given reason for some of those people to feel indifference towards me. And now, after being scarred a few times, I do not reach for hands. I hold them at arm’s length. How many of us do this?
We all lose friends, lose people in our lives. We all have been burned by bad people. But does that mean we must discount the actions of all we might meet and delight in? How many stories have we missed out on, being distrustful of all strangers? How many friends have we passed by, in distrust?
Truly, that mistrust can suit us well at times. That meth-head waving the knife and cackling might be a bad choice for a conversational partner. Surely we should be wary at times. But perhaps not at all times.
Watching Little Danger cast his spell of cute over people, watching otherwise wary adults lower their guard, I wonder. Watching children instinctively reach for each other’s hands, I wonder. And it is wonderful. I think it’s time for us to remember that lesson of youth.
I am going to try to follow Yoda’s advice, and unlearn that which I have learned. In this case, I am going to unlearn the art of distrust.
You’ll have to pardon me, but I’m going to reach for your hand. Metaphorically, of course…I have no desire to be maced on the subway or tased in the park. But I’ve learned a lesson from children, and I urge you to learn it with me. Reach out for one another, even if just for an hour on the playground. I bet our hearts will be better for it.
Agree with me? Let me know in the comments. And then do Little Danger and I a favor and share this one. Stumble it, facebook it, and let’s reach for some hands!