“They haven’t left the playground yet.” It was a comment that went straight to the heart of the conversation, and a comment that has resonated ever since. And yet, I don’t remember who we were talking about at the time. So what does it mean? We all have been in a playground early in our lives. We reasoned with life the best way we could, hitting out at those who hurt us, or curling into our shells. And we were either popular, or avoided.
And then we tried a career. I’m not sure if everyone thinks this at some stage, but as I grew older I watched the games people played in the office, and wondered why maturity had never stepped right up and introduced itself to these individuals. Managers went on power trips. Some stood up to their bullying. Some crumbled. Others looked at the boss as a childish idiot, and treated them accordingly. There were ambitious workers who felt the need to spread rumours about those who threatened their rise to the top. Soon others had to watch what they said around these poor excuses of adulthood. It’s not a situation many of us had time for.
Kicking the habit early. I went to a school in Queensland, a state that is considered one of Australia’s most conservative. Our school, however, was very progressive. We even had meditation classes around exam time. But it’s what we did at the beginning of our final year that really made the difference. We went on a school camp. We shared cooking duties, played games, did team building exercises, and spent the evenings talking or singing around a camp fire. In one week we changed. The year before we were teenagers. Now we were adults. The old social groups had worn away. The popular, the nerds, the born-again Christians (it was the 80’s), and whatever other categorised kid’s movement that ever was, was no longer. We had our own special room where we all hung out between classes. We all went to each other’s birthday parties. No matter who we were, we were all friends.
And recently it all returned… We were the subject of gossip. And the weirdest part about what was said, was that it was successfully dismissed as garbage by those who heard it. As my partner often says “Some people try to transfer their unhappiness onto others.” And at those times you really look in amazement at how some people continue to act as if they’re still in the playground.