You are on page 1of 12

Psychology Underground 377

10.

Play

Zippidy doo dah, zippidy eh


My oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine, comin my way.
Zippidy doo dah, zippidy eh.

Here in the paradise of Mexico where I am writing a


book, I observed two very different children, one Ameri-
can, one Mexican, both about four years of age. The
Mexican child was obviously not from Puerto Vallarta
but some inland village. He and two older sisters were
exploring the beach in one of its most dangerous parts.
Really this area is not a beach at all, but a rocky, boul-
der-strewn minefield. I wouldn’t walk in that tangle of
stones even if the tides were out and there were no
waves. But on this day, the tides were lapping at the
rocks which were wet and covered with slippery moss.

The stones are glass-smooth, but the green covering


makes them unpredictably slicker. But this little boy
just danced across those boulders from the water back
to the safety of the beach and back again, as if taunt-
ing the sea and challenging it to catch him. His agility

Psychology Underground 377

10.

Play

Zippidy doo dah, zippidy eh


My oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine, comin my way.
Zippidy doo dah, zippidy eh.

Here in the paradise of Mexico where I am writing a


book, I observed two very different children, one Ameri-
can, one Mexican, both about four years of age. The
Mexican child was obviously not from Puerto Vallarta
but some inland village. He and two older sisters were
exploring the beach in one of its most dangerous parts.
Really this area is not a beach at all, but a rocky, boul-
der-strewn minefield. I wouldn’t walk in that tangle of
stones even if the tides were out and there were no
waves. But on this day, the tides were lapping at the
rocks which were wet and covered with slippery moss.

The stones are glass-smooth, but the green covering


makes them unpredictably slicker. But this little boy
just danced across those boulders from the water back
to the safety of the beach and back again, as if taunt-
ing the sea and challenging it to catch him. His agility
378 Play

was staggering in the face of the four-foot waves which


seemed just as eager to catch him in their wake.

He wasn’t performing any feats, of course, but merely


excited to see the sea and overjoyed in its presence. He
was completely naked, his body tan, and he jumped
over the rocks effortlessly. There were no life guards.
This little boy was the image of freedom, and yet the
level of danger was really, in my gringo eyes, quite sub-
stantial. He could scurry over probably 30 rocks and
then scurry right back to safety with a yelp of joy that
he had outsmarted the entire Pacific Ocean.

Later that day I was sitting on the sand in front of a


luxury hotel. A North American woman brought her
little boy out. He was covered from head to toe, a red
bonnet, shirt, and pants. He was allowed to play but
only as long as he remained on his blanket which was
the size of a normal bath towel. The only part of his
body exposed to the sun were his cheeks of his face,
which his mother smeared with white goop.

He played with his many plastic toys. The boy did not
run, jump, show any exuberance, but dutifully looked
into his play-bag for toys. He did look a bit ridiculous
actually. Perhaps he was a girl, because of the bonnet,
but the character of toys were boy-like. Still, here was
a child in a red bonnet, fully clothed, with white paste
all over his cheeks, sitting under an umbrella. He never
ventured from the protected enclave of his blanket,
never touched the sand, and his expression was one of
resolve and mild curiosity about the contents of the
beach bag.

378 Play

was staggering in the face of the four-foot waves which


seemed just as eager to catch him in their wake.

He wasn’t performing any feats, of course, but merely


excited to see the sea and overjoyed in its presence. He
was completely naked, his body tan, and he jumped
over the rocks effortlessly. There were no life guards.
This little boy was the image of freedom, and yet the
level of danger was really, in my gringo eyes, quite sub-
stantial. He could scurry over probably 30 rocks and
then scurry right back to safety with a yelp of joy that
he had outsmarted the entire Pacific Ocean.

Later that day I was sitting on the sand in front of a


luxury hotel. A North American woman brought her
little boy out. He was covered from head to toe, a red
bonnet, shirt, and pants. He was allowed to play but
only as long as he remained on his blanket which was
the size of a normal bath towel. The only part of his
body exposed to the sun were his cheeks of his face,
which his mother smeared with white goop.

He played with his many plastic toys. The boy did not
run, jump, show any exuberance, but dutifully looked
into his play-bag for toys. He did look a bit ridiculous
actually. Perhaps he was a girl, because of the bonnet,
but the character of toys were boy-like. Still, here was
a child in a red bonnet, fully clothed, with white paste
all over his cheeks, sitting under an umbrella. He never
ventured from the protected enclave of his blanket,
never touched the sand, and his expression was one of
resolve and mild curiosity about the contents of the
beach bag.
Psychology Underground 379

First, it would seem a fruitless task to tell the North


American mother that children need to play, to be free,
to explore, to “be themselves,” to be encouraged to in-
vestigate, be curious, whimsical even ... to play like
little puppy-dogs, wrangling, tangling, and jostling with
one another.

Good luck! Her boy is to be raised carefully and cau-


tiously in a climate others might see as over-protec-
tive, but surely to her in a manner which is legitimate
and justifiable. To suggest she let her little boy be a
little boy is like telling her to invite her son to risk mela-
noma, drowning, kidnapping, infection from debris in
the sand, plus a host of other chimerical misfortunes.

Such an invitation might also be thought of as subtly


reinforcing traditional sex role stereotypes which en-
courage and steer little boys into being hyperactive,
testosterone freaks conditioned by antiquated notions
of sex roles which turn them them into aggressive, out-
going, rambunctious, ADHD-Dennis-the-menaces.
Maybe this mother wants to raise a “new” kind of child
rather than the traditional boy with a worm in one
pocket and a shell collection in the other.

We would probably have more success telling the


mother of the poor, naked, spontaneous, Mexican child
that by swimming without clothes in dangerous rocky
places without sunblocker is likely to cause numerous
close encounters with life-threatening events. This sec-
ond alternative would be resisted, surely, but I believe
it has a better chance of being adopted than altering
the behavior of the North American mother.

Psychology Underground 379

First, it would seem a fruitless task to tell the North


American mother that children need to play, to be free,
to explore, to “be themselves,” to be encouraged to in-
vestigate, be curious, whimsical even ... to play like
little puppy-dogs, wrangling, tangling, and jostling with
one another.

Good luck! Her boy is to be raised carefully and cau-


tiously in a climate others might see as over-protec-
tive, but surely to her in a manner which is legitimate
and justifiable. To suggest she let her little boy be a
little boy is like telling her to invite her son to risk mela-
noma, drowning, kidnapping, infection from debris in
the sand, plus a host of other chimerical misfortunes.

Such an invitation might also be thought of as subtly


reinforcing traditional sex role stereotypes which en-
courage and steer little boys into being hyperactive,
testosterone freaks conditioned by antiquated notions
of sex roles which turn them them into aggressive, out-
going, rambunctious, ADHD-Dennis-the-menaces.
Maybe this mother wants to raise a “new” kind of child
rather than the traditional boy with a worm in one
pocket and a shell collection in the other.

We would probably have more success telling the


mother of the poor, naked, spontaneous, Mexican child
that by swimming without clothes in dangerous rocky
places without sunblocker is likely to cause numerous
close encounters with life-threatening events. This sec-
ond alternative would be resisted, surely, but I believe
it has a better chance of being adopted than altering
the behavior of the North American mother.
380 Play

In the United States, the “land of the free” the message


about personal freedom, play, anarchy, spontaneity,
being oneself, “going with the flow” were ideas awk-
wardly espoused in the sixties and expounded by hip-
pie-theorists, but they seem increasingly passé today.

But really are we talking about some New Age ideology


or some counter-culture philosophical movement? This
is just a little boy skipping across boulders to a deli-
ciously awaiting ocean expressing a freedom that many
of us knew in childhood and lost. It is simply childhood,
unbridled, uncensored, uninhibited living. It needs no
modern label. It is old, ancient, and everyone knows
what it is — except to those who have forgotten or those
who would like to pretend they can’t remember.

Admittedly there may be a number of people who grew


up in inhibited, over-protective households who spent
so little of their childhoods at play, that some really do
not know much about Huckleberry Finn, walking bare-
foot down a sandy road, putting a stick in a hole in the
ground to see if anything is in there, or tossing a ball
up against a wall for hours and catching it as it bounces
back.

It is spirit, beauty, exuberance, human nature at its


finest, the golden glowing grace of humanity and child-
hood exquisitely expressed in movement, dance, joy,
uninhibitedness and life. And the greatest enemy to
the full, evocative expression of this central element of
living is fear, mistrust, and foreboding.

Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen’s Bioenergetics comes as


close to the target as anyone could. He describes how

380 Play

In the United States, the “land of the free” the message


about personal freedom, play, anarchy, spontaneity,
being oneself, “going with the flow” were ideas awk-
wardly espoused in the sixties and expounded by hip-
pie-theorists, but they seem increasingly passé today.

But really are we talking about some New Age ideology


or some counter-culture philosophical movement? This
is just a little boy skipping across boulders to a deli-
ciously awaiting ocean expressing a freedom that many
of us knew in childhood and lost. It is simply childhood,
unbridled, uncensored, uninhibited living. It needs no
modern label. It is old, ancient, and everyone knows
what it is — except to those who have forgotten or those
who would like to pretend they can’t remember.

Admittedly there may be a number of people who grew


up in inhibited, over-protective households who spent
so little of their childhoods at play, that some really do
not know much about Huckleberry Finn, walking bare-
foot down a sandy road, putting a stick in a hole in the
ground to see if anything is in there, or tossing a ball
up against a wall for hours and catching it as it bounces
back.

It is spirit, beauty, exuberance, human nature at its


finest, the golden glowing grace of humanity and child-
hood exquisitely expressed in movement, dance, joy,
uninhibitedness and life. And the greatest enemy to
the full, evocative expression of this central element of
living is fear, mistrust, and foreboding.

Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen’s Bioenergetics comes as


close to the target as anyone could. He describes how
Psychology Underground 381

Egyptian boys swimming on the Nile,


circa 1900; photo source,
Library of Congress

a child who is naturally joyful comes into adulthood


by passing through myriad checkpoints of criticism,
admonishments, rules, frustrations, deprecations,
evaluations, cautions, and other sundry punishments.
The result is that, with time, the child loses that unique
effervescence all children at one time or another had.
Lowen considers this the beginning point of adult neu-
rosis, and his therapy specializes in the rediscovery of
the body, which is really not that far distant from the
rediscovery of childhood.

Children sitting in front of television, inside, alone,


become blunted and sedentary. They show signs of pre-
mature obesity. Many even have elevated cholesterol
levels, all bequeathed from these restricted, inhibited,
and increasingly virtual childhoods.

I asked one of my graduate classes how many became


angry in the last five years at anyone. All raised their
hands. Then I asked if any of them acted on that anger

Psychology Underground 381

Egyptian boys swimming on the Nile,


circa 1900; photo source,
Library of Congress

a child who is naturally joyful comes into adulthood


by passing through myriad checkpoints of criticism,
admonishments, rules, frustrations, deprecations,
evaluations, cautions, and other sundry punishments.
The result is that, with time, the child loses that unique
effervescence all children at one time or another had.
Lowen considers this the beginning point of adult neu-
rosis, and his therapy specializes in the rediscovery of
the body, which is really not that far distant from the
rediscovery of childhood.

Children sitting in front of television, inside, alone,


become blunted and sedentary. They show signs of pre-
mature obesity. Many even have elevated cholesterol
levels, all bequeathed from these restricted, inhibited,
and increasingly virtual childhoods.

I asked one of my graduate classes how many became


angry in the last five years at anyone. All raised their
hands. Then I asked if any of them acted on that anger
382 Play

physically by pushing or shoving someone towards


whom they felt angry. No one raised their hand.

Then I asked what kind of response we would get to


the same series of questions if they were posed to a
classroom of fifth graders? Most agreed that fifth grad-
ers would express their anger physically and shoving
matches would not at all be uncommon.

Clearly the difference between childhood expression of


feeling and its adult suppression are obvious, but in-
verse, correlates.

In-training

At my university, there is a swimming pool. It is enor-


mous, and in the Spring, the sun shines brightly, and
the water is crystal clear and inviting. The entire pool
area is made of cement. There are no tables, no grass,no
sand, no trees. The pool is marked off into “lanes” and
while there may be forty or fifty people there, one can
barely discern any noise. There are very few conversa-
tions. Those who are swimming are wearing the latest
gear, swimming “gloves,” and spandex suits. Almost
everyone seems to be “working out.”

It is as if the entire population of swimmers is com-


posed of driven, goal-oriented, serious athletes-in-train-
ing, as if pool membership is limited only to Type-A
personalities. There is almost no sense of play or joy,
only an over-riding sense of work, exercise, regimen,
discipline, and endurance.

382 Play

physically by pushing or shoving someone towards


whom they felt angry. No one raised their hand.

Then I asked what kind of response we would get to


the same series of questions if they were posed to a
classroom of fifth graders? Most agreed that fifth grad-
ers would express their anger physically and shoving
matches would not at all be uncommon.

Clearly the difference between childhood expression of


feeling and its adult suppression are obvious, but in-
verse, correlates.

In-training

At my university, there is a swimming pool. It is enor-


mous, and in the Spring, the sun shines brightly, and
the water is crystal clear and inviting. The entire pool
area is made of cement. There are no tables, no grass,no
sand, no trees. The pool is marked off into “lanes” and
while there may be forty or fifty people there, one can
barely discern any noise. There are very few conversa-
tions. Those who are swimming are wearing the latest
gear, swimming “gloves,” and spandex suits. Almost
everyone seems to be “working out.”

It is as if the entire population of swimmers is com-


posed of driven, goal-oriented, serious athletes-in-train-
ing, as if pool membership is limited only to Type-A
personalities. There is almost no sense of play or joy,
only an over-riding sense of work, exercise, regimen,
discipline, and endurance.
Psychology Underground 383

No one runs and jumps in. No one yells and screams.


There are no “yelps,” no “belly-flops,” no mothers and
fathers “frolicking” with their children, no teasing,
splashing, no “clowning,” no “gags” boys play on girls,
not even pranks men play on women or women on men,
no “dunking,” and no one picking anyone else up and
throwing them in the pool.

There are no lovers embracing in the water. There is


no kissing, even on the cement. It is silent, sleek, clean,
quiet, concrete, professional, and incredibly antisep-
tic. There may be a few signs like “no horseplay al-
lowed” but honestly I doubt such warnings are even
necessary. That is the university pool, and, metaphori-
cally, the pool into which America’s childhood drowned.

In Mexico old men on Sunday afternoons get into the


sea with their grandchildren and play, simply play, and
you can see they are playing. They are not babysitting
nor offering enriching experiences to these children.
They have never lost the capacity to play. And one would
be hard pressed to decide who is having more fun, the
children or the grandparents. They are giggling and
splashing and smiling about equally when I watch
them.

I see North Americans sunning themselves, lying in


military fashion in obsessive-compulsive rows, but I
have never seen them lie at the water’s edge, like Mexi-
can old and young do, and just let the waves push and
pull them in and out of the water, like a beached whale
buffeted by the sea. I did that as a child, and I dis-
tinctly remember it.

Psychology Underground 383

No one runs and jumps in. No one yells and screams.


There are no “yelps,” no “belly-flops,” no mothers and
fathers “frolicking” with their children, no teasing,
splashing, no “clowning,” no “gags” boys play on girls,
not even pranks men play on women or women on men,
no “dunking,” and no one picking anyone else up and
throwing them in the pool.

There are no lovers embracing in the water. There is


no kissing, even on the cement. It is silent, sleek, clean,
quiet, concrete, professional, and incredibly antisep-
tic. There may be a few signs like “no horseplay al-
lowed” but honestly I doubt such warnings are even
necessary. That is the university pool, and, metaphori-
cally, the pool into which America’s childhood drowned.

In Mexico old men on Sunday afternoons get into the


sea with their grandchildren and play, simply play, and
you can see they are playing. They are not babysitting
nor offering enriching experiences to these children.
They have never lost the capacity to play. And one would
be hard pressed to decide who is having more fun, the
children or the grandparents. They are giggling and
splashing and smiling about equally when I watch
them.

I see North Americans sunning themselves, lying in


military fashion in obsessive-compulsive rows, but I
have never seen them lie at the water’s edge, like Mexi-
can old and young do, and just let the waves push and
pull them in and out of the water, like a beached whale
buffeted by the sea. I did that as a child, and I dis-
tinctly remember it.
384 Play

Norman O. Brown said that sublimation is the search


in the outside world for the lost body of childhood.1 The
“lost body” is what we are unconsciously searching for,
but when do, it is at the behest of the ego and under
its auspices. Sublimated entertainment has replaced
play. We take courses in scuba diving, parasailing, snor-
keling, water skiing, deep sea fishing, whale-watching
but seem to have forgotten all about “floating.”

To return to childhood, to the body, to instinctual wis-


dom is the seminal issue. Do we really need to take
courses in these things, to study and learn how to
breathe, to float, or to play? I suggest we need only to
remember. Taking a course in such things begs the
question and merely continues the control-freakish-
ness of an already over-sublimated ego.

Losing contact with childhood — and by that I mean


grace, joy, spontaneity, and abandon — has major so-
cial consequences. One begins to fear the sun, the
breeze, animals, the night, birds. Life becomes phobic
and populated with danger at every turn.

I often see Americans in hotels or foreign lands sitting


around telling stories to each other of how someone
was attacked by a shark, how so-in-so developed hepa-
titis by walking barefoot, how another tourist was raped
and robbed by casually strolling near the seaside at
night, as if each American is a complete eleven o’clock
news program unto themselves.

I’m sure that somewhere there is even a story about


how a tourist decided to “float” without a life preserver
and was swept out to sea by an undertow and never

384 Play

Norman O. Brown said that sublimation is the search


in the outside world for the lost body of childhood.1 The
“lost body” is what we are unconsciously searching for,
but when do, it is at the behest of the ego and under
its auspices. Sublimated entertainment has replaced
play. We take courses in scuba diving, parasailing, snor-
keling, water skiing, deep sea fishing, whale-watching
but seem to have forgotten all about “floating.”

To return to childhood, to the body, to instinctual wis-


dom is the seminal issue. Do we really need to take
courses in these things, to study and learn how to
breathe, to float, or to play? I suggest we need only to
remember. Taking a course in such things begs the
question and merely continues the control-freakish-
ness of an already over-sublimated ego.

Losing contact with childhood — and by that I mean


grace, joy, spontaneity, and abandon — has major so-
cial consequences. One begins to fear the sun, the
breeze, animals, the night, birds. Life becomes phobic
and populated with danger at every turn.

I often see Americans in hotels or foreign lands sitting


around telling stories to each other of how someone
was attacked by a shark, how so-in-so developed hepa-
titis by walking barefoot, how another tourist was raped
and robbed by casually strolling near the seaside at
night, as if each American is a complete eleven o’clock
news program unto themselves.

I’m sure that somewhere there is even a story about


how a tourist decided to “float” without a life preserver
and was swept out to sea by an undertow and never
Psychology Underground 385

heard from again, as in the movie 10. These horror


stories are told by the ton on every beach, echoing our
media which also regularly pumps out gushers of fear-
laden blather.

The subtext, the “deep structure”, the embedded, yet


delusory cognitive schema here is: “be careful, be cau-
tious, take care of yourself (no one else will) ... and above
all be ever-watchful for predators!”

Had you only been more attentive, you might not have
been robbed, raped, eaten by a shark, or infected with
hepatitis by stepping barefoot on donkey dung in the
sand. Had you only been lucky enough to be more fear-
ful, more cautious, more protective — less instinctual
and childlike — perhaps you would not have floated
into the waiting jaws of that great white.

This essay, of course, has nothing to do with proper


behavior at a beach, but it does have a great deal to do
with childhood, with openness, and trust ... with those
innocent, unjaded eyes of a little one looking into the
eyes of its mother or a stranger not with suspicion,
fear, foreboding, cautiousness and wariness — as in
“never talk to strangers” — but with a twinkle, a lost
twinkle from a lost childhood.

Tales of fear and woe proliferate in our society for the


purpose, at the conscious level, of protecting the child
from danger, but at the unconscious level, to keep one
at a distance from inner feelings. In childhood the crea-
tures who were one’s allies, friends, and neighbors are
now “aliens,” “intruders,” “pests,” or “pestilences.” Be
careful, be cautious, trust no one! Never pet that puppy
dog, you have no idea where it’s been!

Psychology Underground 385

heard from again, as in the movie 10. These horror


stories are told by the ton on every beach, echoing our
media which also regularly pumps out gushers of fear-
laden blather.

The subtext, the “deep structure”, the embedded, yet


delusory cognitive schema here is: “be careful, be cau-
tious, take care of yourself (no one else will) ... and above
all be ever-watchful for predators!”

Had you only been more attentive, you might not have
been robbed, raped, eaten by a shark, or infected with
hepatitis by stepping barefoot on donkey dung in the
sand. Had you only been lucky enough to be more fear-
ful, more cautious, more protective — less instinctual
and childlike — perhaps you would not have floated
into the waiting jaws of that great white.

This essay, of course, has nothing to do with proper


behavior at a beach, but it does have a great deal to do
with childhood, with openness, and trust ... with those
innocent, unjaded eyes of a little one looking into the
eyes of its mother or a stranger not with suspicion,
fear, foreboding, cautiousness and wariness — as in
“never talk to strangers” — but with a twinkle, a lost
twinkle from a lost childhood.

Tales of fear and woe proliferate in our society for the


purpose, at the conscious level, of protecting the child
from danger, but at the unconscious level, to keep one
at a distance from inner feelings. In childhood the crea-
tures who were one’s allies, friends, and neighbors are
now “aliens,” “intruders,” “pests,” or “pestilences.” Be
careful, be cautious, trust no one! Never pet that puppy
dog, you have no idea where it’s been!
386 Play

Children have a natural tendency to feel close to ani-


mals, to engage them in dialogue, to touch, to interact,
to seek them out until their parents catch them and
disabuse them of their instinctual kinship with these
creatures.

Anyone who would intervene and say, “Let the kid pet
the puppy dog!” is not only meddling, but irrespon-
sible and obviously someone who has not kept up with
the latest horror stories of how more and more chil-
dren are being eaten alive by vicious rabid dogs and
Rottweilers.

There is very little national conversation about these


issues and how deep the wounds to our hearts and
souls go with such a pervasive and prolific parade of
newsworthy grostequeries our children and their par-
ents are exposed to daily.

Some young people are acutely aware of the rigidity of


the media fear-market, and try to escape it by cata-
pulting themselves back into childhood using a few il-
legal levers. But recovering the joy, abandon, and free-
dom of childhood is not the same as getting stoned or
partying til dawn at a Rave under acid. Acting out, and
“doing it in the street” is just as sublimated as
parasailing — a brash attempt by the ego to forcibly
find release. Contrived drug-induced impulsivity is not
the same as the playfulness we knew in childhood,
anymore than hashish-induced laughter has the same
harmonics of the innocence of a child’s contagious
giggle.

386 Play

Children have a natural tendency to feel close to ani-


mals, to engage them in dialogue, to touch, to interact,
to seek them out until their parents catch them and
disabuse them of their instinctual kinship with these
creatures.

Anyone who would intervene and say, “Let the kid pet
the puppy dog!” is not only meddling, but irrespon-
sible and obviously someone who has not kept up with
the latest horror stories of how more and more chil-
dren are being eaten alive by vicious rabid dogs and
Rottweilers.

There is very little national conversation about these


issues and how deep the wounds to our hearts and
souls go with such a pervasive and prolific parade of
newsworthy grostequeries our children and their par-
ents are exposed to daily.

Some young people are acutely aware of the rigidity of


the media fear-market, and try to escape it by cata-
pulting themselves back into childhood using a few il-
legal levers. But recovering the joy, abandon, and free-
dom of childhood is not the same as getting stoned or
partying til dawn at a Rave under acid. Acting out, and
“doing it in the street” is just as sublimated as
parasailing — a brash attempt by the ego to forcibly
find release. Contrived drug-induced impulsivity is not
the same as the playfulness we knew in childhood,
anymore than hashish-induced laughter has the same
harmonics of the innocence of a child’s contagious
giggle.
Psychology Underground 387

To lose childhood at an individual level is sad and lays


the essential groundwork for neurosis and psychologi-
cal disturbance. But to lose childhood at a collective
level becomes more dangerous especially for a nuclear
power like the United States.

The news media told us that at the end of the century,


the Y2K “bug” might bite us. It also said that “terror-
ists” were caught coming into Seattle, and Americans
should be “wary” of being in large gatherings. Did any
of these warnings turn out to be true? No, but news-
media alerts did convince large numbers of people to
stay at home instead.

We assimilate all the fearful news, and very many of us


remain safely at home and poised to anticipate any
and all forms of danger, terrorism, mad dogs, and neigh-
borhood rapists. But can we truly insulate ourselves
from the vagaries of life with a full compliment of dead-
bolt locks, alarms, emergency numbers, insurance
policies, protective gear, and plenty of sun blocker with-
out at the same time injuring our inner nature, our
instincts, our hearts and those of our children as well?

It’s the heart afraid of breaking


that never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
that never takes a chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dying
that never learns to live.2

Psychology Underground 387

To lose childhood at an individual level is sad and lays


the essential groundwork for neurosis and psychologi-
cal disturbance. But to lose childhood at a collective
level becomes more dangerous especially for a nuclear
power like the United States.

The news media told us that at the end of the century,


the Y2K “bug” might bite us. It also said that “terror-
ists” were caught coming into Seattle, and Americans
should be “wary” of being in large gatherings. Did any
of these warnings turn out to be true? No, but news-
media alerts did convince large numbers of people to
stay at home instead.

We assimilate all the fearful news, and very many of us


remain safely at home and poised to anticipate any
and all forms of danger, terrorism, mad dogs, and neigh-
borhood rapists. But can we truly insulate ourselves
from the vagaries of life with a full compliment of dead-
bolt locks, alarms, emergency numbers, insurance
policies, protective gear, and plenty of sun blocker with-
out at the same time injuring our inner nature, our
instincts, our hearts and those of our children as well?

It’s the heart afraid of breaking


that never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
that never takes a chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dying
that never learns to live.2
388 Play

––––––––––––––––––

1
N.O. Brown, Love’s Body, New York: Norton, 1966, p. 176.

2
From “The Rose” by Amanda McBroom, Amanda McBroom home
page.

388 Play

––––––––––––––––––

1
N.O. Brown, Love’s Body, New York: Norton, 1966, p. 176.

2
From “The Rose” by Amanda McBroom, Amanda McBroom home
page.

Related Interests