I just built the playground. It’s up to you whether you want to play on it or not. – Anonymous
The above quote is from a conversation I recently had with a friend here in San Francisco. We were talking about relationships of various kinds, and in particular the idea (which we both prefer) of being the person that your significant other would want to be with, rather than trying to “catch”, “hunt”, or “trap” someone using some form of control like money, marriage, guilt, etc. If you’ve ever seen the parent who (sometimes literally) drags their child to a playground because they read somewhere that it’s “good” for the kid, then you can imagine what that kind of situation is. The kid says, either verbally or through body language, “I’ll stay here because you’re bigger than me, but you can’t make me like it!” and meanwhile the parent usually uses some variant of “You’ll have fun on this playground whether you like it or not!”
The metaphor led us down some fun little allegories for particular behaviors we’ve seen in ourselves, our partners, and other relationships, and I thought I’d share just a few to get your mind started down the path. By all means, contribute your own “Playground of Love” metaphor until the thing collapses under it’s own weight.
- “This playground is mine! No one else can play here unless I say so!” (usually shouted from the top of the monkey bars).
- “We play by my rules or I will take my ball and go home!” (usually shouted inches from your face).
- King of the Mountain is a fun game, until it isn’t.
- Simple playgrounds are often the most fun, as long as you bring imagination.
- More imagination = more fun.
- Shiny new equipment is nifty, but the more complicated it is, the sooner the novelty wears off.
- The two reasons a playground may not be shiny are exactly opposite each other: joyful play or neglectful apathy.
- On any playground, you’re as bored as you decide you want to be.
- Every playground has a secret spot you can find for yourself, and maybe share with your best friend.
- Sometimes people need to play by themselves.
- Sometimes people need a time out.
- Sometimes the ground is wood chips. Sometimes it’s pirate-infested sea. Sometimes it’s hot lava. It depends on how you look at it.
- A playground is a mixture of danger and safety. You may fall off the monkey bars, but you’ll be able to get up, dust off, and climb back up again.
- The only thing you need to make a playground is a space and a time to play.
- The best playgrounds don’t have fences, because it’s the place where people want to play.
- You can find a new playground. Or you can change the one you have. Or you can learn to find new ways to play without changing a thing. It’s very difficult to do all three.
- Nobody stays on the playground all the time. But if they have a fun time, they’ll probably do their best to come back.
Part of the fun of writing this for me is to see how people’s interpretation of my allegories evoke different interpretations. And also to see what other metaphors people can come up with that fit the model. So…you’re it!