I love coming to the playground in the early morning. There are a few kids around, but they tend to be quieter, calmer. I see two kids in the sandbox, building a town with Tonka trucks. There are two more talking on the park bench. The sun is just starting to light up the sky above the trees. A slight breeze is blowing, causing the swings to move back and forth ever so slightly. The dew on the grass is wetting my shoes, and I can hear the birds starting to sing as they wake up and get ready to begin their day.
The playground in the morning is where I can come to think. This morning I am thinking about how it came about that I left the playground. I have been told that sharing this story may help others avoid the bully Nicotine that hangs around here, trying to keep people from enjoying the playground. I hesitate though, because while I see that advantage, I do not want it to sound like I am making excuses. It is also hard to talk about my failures.
So I sit at the bottom of the slide, listening to the birds, and watching the sun lighten the sky in the east. I guess the best place to start it to explain a little about me. All of my life, I have felt the highest goal any one can achieve is to serve. It is through serving and helping others that I get my greatest joy. This is why I have chosen to work with the elderly and those with developmental disabilities. My work life has been service since I started working. It is also the way I live my family life. When I list my failures. it is the times that I did not serve that I put at the top. I think it is for that reason I work so hard on this site to support others.
I see a few more kids have wandered through the gate of the playground. It is warming up, and it is clear the way they are dressed that they are stopping here for a bit before going to church. They will make sure they do not get their freshly washed dresses, and dress pants dirty, but they want to stop for just a bit before starting their day.
As part of my serving, I have always been the strong one. When the walls seem to be falling down, I took on the role of keeping things going so the other person has time to fall apart, and deal with the anguish. I am the strong shoulder to cry on. Even through the end of my first marriage, which was not my choice, I buried my feeling to make sure that my teenage children would feel my support.
The problem, of course, is I am too skilled at burying my feelings. I also have no idea how to accept help from others. Those who try to give me support find that somehow things flip, and I am supporting them. I do not intend to flip it, and I know it would be much healthier for me if I didn't, somehow I just make it happen.
And so I look at my three longest quits, two before I found this wonderful playground. They are all the result of me being strong, and being unable to let others support me. My first marriage ended, my mother in law passed away, and my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I was the strong one, and took care of others, so they could grieve.
The day is warming here on the playground. The sun is peeking over the trees, and it feels so good on my face and arms. More kids are wandering in, and the wonderful noise of kids having nicotine free fun is rising. It will be a beautiful day.
And so I ask myself, as I get up from the end of the slide, is it possible to change this 60 yr old man? Can I open up and let people see my pain? Can I accept a supportive hug, or even ask for it when I need it. The answer, of course, is that I need to. I know I can serve better when I allow others to serve me also. My head knows this, now I just have to teach my heart.
But enough of this. I need to swing on the swings, and see how high I can get. I need to hang up side down on the monkey bars. I need to play in the sand box and go fast on the merry go round. I need to celebrate the wonderful Playground that we have been given!