This Thing I'm Doing: Park Playdate Open House Hootenanny


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Judging from the proliferation of articles on self-care and avoiding resistance fatigue in and around my social media feed, I'm guessing that the weariness that I'm feeling in the face of the current administration's assault on our values and beliefs is hitting us all at about the same time. Disappointment in the confirmation of a cabinet of clowns, horror at the travel ban, and my own inability to limit my news consumption has really exhausted my strength and resources.

I know that seasoned activists would both nod in agreement and throw up their hands in disgust at this statement. I know my hands are soft here from disuse, people, and that I have a lot to learn about stamina and endurance. I know this and am embarrassed by how insulated from activist work my rich white cis hetero abled lady privilege has made me, but that embarrassment doesn't make the fact of this weariness any less real.

And so I'm learning to find a way to remain knowledgeable about current events and active in opposing that which I find abhorrent while also living a generally happy and productive life. A big part of finding that concurrence is through mindful, intentional rest.

This, of course, means sleep, reading books in the bath, and bingeing episodes of This Is Us - you know, the kinds of things one would expect upon reading the word "rest." But it also means just leaving the world of constant media scrutiny and political vigilance to engage in some active rest with real, 3D people, outside of my house, outside of my phone, and well outside of any headline news.

One of the reasons that the Women's March was so joyful and meaningful for me was that I was out, among other like-minded people, united at a peaceful social event. Marching among 10,000, I found myself, surprisingly, more relaxed than I had been since the election. It was a sigh of relief not to feel alone, isolated, hopeless, or beset by detractors. It was good to be among people with whom I felt I belonged, and to be acting rather than reacting to whatever shock was freshly horrifying.

And it's from this urge to engage with my people while taking a break from outrage that the SUPER AWESOME MEGA WONDER PLAYDATE was born.

It went a little something like this:

Step 1: Write a Facebook status update inviting any and all to come and play at a park near my house from 9:30ish - 11:30ish the following Saturday. Offer to bring a coffee box and a dozen doughnuts, and suggest that others supplement the snack offerings with their own contribution. Figure that worst case scenario you hang out with your kids at the park and bring home coffee and doughnuts to your grateful spouse.

Step 2: At 9:00 that Saturday, go buy the coffee box and doughnuts.

Step 3: Roll up to the park with your kids and snacks.

Step 4: Watch in wonderment as about a dozen of your friends from various times and connections of your life come rolling in with their kids.

Step 5: Pour the coffee. Make the introductions. Marvel at what a wonderful crew you've assembled, people you love, people who love you, people who belong to you and to whom you belong.

That morning was such a balm to my weary soul. Every car that pulled up with another family of friends and neighbors was a delight. It felt most akin to my wedding, when I was able to pull together all of my very favorite people from across all facets of my life to enjoy one another's company. I love that the people I love got to meet the other people I love. I love that the children I love got to play with the other children I love. This one small, two-hour block of madness, was a tangible reminder that there is life beyond the headlines, and that life must be respected and nurtured even as we fight against the onslaught of offenses those headlines announce. We have to remember what is good. We have to make what is good present and known. Through that reconnection to our values and our people we can find the inspiration and motivation to keep fighting for the good that we have and the good that we wish for our fellow citizens.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed and alone when you're facing a tidal wave of terrible news. It's very difficult to feel overwhelmed and alone when you surround yourself with your friends and your friends' children in a microcosm of what you wish the national and global community looks like.*

Did this playdate solve the world's problems? Of course not. It was a small action that brought a handful of people together. But it gave me respite, and it gave my friends a reason to celebrate their early-rising children for once.** It gave us an excuse to be together and recharge when we otherwise might have stared into our phones, wearing ourselves down. It made my Saturday and gave me hope and strength to continue on with the phone calls, the emails, the faxes, the letters, the anger, the sadness, the frustration, and the affront of the next week.

The SUPER AWESOME MEGA WONDER PLAYDATE was such a delightful success that I'm hosting another one, with the idea of making them monthly. The crowd will change in numbers and attendants. The kids will change in their interaction with one another and their willingness to attend.*** But what will remain is my commitment to my people, my need to find rest in their company, and my gratitude to have something so good and so worth fighting for.

*Coffee and doughnuts don't hurt, either.

**It also gave the partners who didn't attend a morning off, which, hopefully led to familial goodwill and perhaps even a little gratitude lovin' later that night. Wink wink, nudge nudge, WIN WIN.

***Again, doughnuts will help here.