Probably all of us have groups of people we are a little nervous around. One of my groups is teenagers, especially those hanging out doing what I see as “nothing”—which you can see a lot of at the moment. (That is another side of spring.)
So much of our reaction has to do with who we are and how we believe the world should be. In this particular case, I was never one of those teenagers so I just don’t get it. Hanging out with or without loud music, smoking, drinking, and talking about dumb (in my opinion) stuff would have bored me to tears. I would rather have gone to the dentist, where you at least know why you are miserable! 😉 I was blissfully happy going to school, playing soccer, singing, playing flute, reading books, and writing papers. I wanted to spend my time doing things I saw as valuable. It took me over 30 years to figure out that the teenagers I see hanging out doing “nothing” also want to spend their time doing something they see as valuable.
Anyway, quite a big band has taken up temporary residence in one of the small parks my dog and I walk through in the afternoons. The last couple of days I have tried to be curious about their experience. Why do they spend their time that way? What do they get out of it? And I have a few likely answers. For one thing, they seem to be having a good time. They are laughing a lot, they seem to be relaxed, and there is clearly a sense of togetherness. They are enjoying spending time with their peers. Today they were playing a game I think they had invented. They were sitting on the ground in a circle with a plastic water bottle in the middle taking turns throwing another plastic water bottle, trying to hit the one in the middle. Sort of like bocce in the round (and sitting down).
As my dog and I were walking up to their circle the bottle landed quite close to us. Someone in the group politely asked me to bring it over. Relaxed myself because I was not in my usual negative inner dialogue about how they were wasting their time and taking up space where other people wanted to walk, I was able to respond and unite past and present by fairly elegantly and quite accurately kicking the bottle back to them. It was a nice exchange that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t consciously been in my curious mode. It was a nice way to wrap up a Friday afternoon.