Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Empty Playgrounds


photo credit
My high school English teacher used to stare out the window and tell us stories about the amazing things he had seen in his life, and the far away places he had visited.

He told us stories about traveling through the Middle East, about peeking through a fence one day to watch a Muslim wedding reception. The women were dancing in a kick line and their burkas's rose just enough to show their ankles. It was the most beautiful, sensual image I had ever seen in my life, he told us. A modest, fully covered woman exposing just her ankles.

He told us stories about sailing around the world on a ship, sleeping on deserted beaches, and feasting on fresh fruit for breakfast each morning.

I also remember him admitting that he can't drive by a deserted playground without tears coming to his eyes. This guy is nuts, I automatically thought. But fifteen years later that image has stayed with me. As I sit here writing the view outside my window faces our Little Tykes play structure. There are toys littered across the lawn, and nearly everyday I remember what my English teacher said about empty playgrounds, and something inside of me misses my little girls.

Of course that impulse is unreasonable. I don't actually want them to charge through the backdoor and interrupt my writing time. But I finally understand what he meant all those years ago. Images, like music, evoke memory and emotion. Bare ankles, deserted beaches, and lonely playgrounds can be the most powerful symbols of what we love, miss, or long for in life. I'm wondering what images might elicit an instant reaction from you? It's probably hard to say, off the top of your head, but it's interesting to think about as you drive around in your car, or look out your kitchen window. If you can come up with one, I'd love to hear about it!

1 comment:

  1. When I used to teach school I would tear up during my carpool line duty watching kids kiss their mothers goodbye in the morning. I LOVE watching missionaries come home at SLC airport. If I see a group waiting for a missionary I'll wait around just to see the reunion. Maybe these aren't really images, but they definitely elicit emotion.

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