Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Playing Work

On the metro, every morning, hundreds of people commute. They swim upstream and down, to and fro, walk on the left and stand on the right. People are in scrubs with Betty Boop on them, in business suits with running shoes, military uniforms with their gym bags. Packed lunches, hurried sudokus between stops, the 3's and 9's squiggled by the trains jolting brakes. What percentage of this throng is doing what they REALLY want to do?

I'd wager 3%. Tops.

I feel as though I am one of these trudging masses. I get up entirely too early every morning to the meowing of my latest alarm clock, 20 minutes before the one that beeps would go off. I take a shower, put on my grown-up costume, and make the trek in haste to sit at my desk for 8 hours before I rush home to wait a few hours so I can rinse and repeat.

It makes me miss the games we play when we're young. I can't for the life of me ever recall playing "work". Kids play all sorts of games that might turn into an occupation as adults. Playing house, doctor, teacher, explorer. They play games that may turn out to be gruesome as adults- when the surgeon needs to lop off all four limbs, when all of the GI Joe's are killed in an unforeseen microwave accident, or when Barbie jumps off the roof of her three story townhouse via the pink elevator (true story.) The games we played most are the ones that are impossible to come true. Every kid played mermaid or space alien invasion or bears. We dressed up in our mothers' dresses and ran around our fathers' garages

Not one kid played analyst or consultant.

And what about the skills we learned as children? Very few of them still come up. I would jump for joy if I got to make a diorama for a meeting. I was talking to a new friend over lunch, (we'll call her "Indignant Constitutional 11-year-old" or "IC-11" for short- it was a great lunch,) and we lamented over the lack of clay figures and construction paper usage in our everyday lives. No more finger paint or colorful blocks. The days of building cells out of styrofoam and making land masses out of papier mache are gone.

So I look around and see all of the astronauts and ballerinas, trumped up in their dressing to go to beige cubicles and concrete office buildings. The thing is though, there isn't the cloud of despair you would think there should be. People seem to be bustling intently. I wouldn't go so far to say "with great jollity", but it isn't as dismal and dreary as it certainly could be.

I can't help but feel as though this is all just another game. I think it points to my immaturity that I still feel as though I'm playing office. The steps are the same as our games of imagination when we were small. You need to build the fort, (the office,) change your costume, (for me, business casual that makes me look like a barn with hair tottering about on uncomfortable heels,) and establish the rules of the game (be there for 8 hours.)

Or maybe all of the bomber pilots and Egyptian goddesses who are running around my city incognito have something figured out that I don't yet. They hurry to and from their work so that they can rush home and play in their airplane hangars and hidden tombs.

Maybe that's the secret they all carry around. They have jungles and sunken pirate ships waiting for them. The sooner they get to work, the sooner they get to go home.

and the sooner they get to play.

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