52 Weeks 500 Words
This is how it began: Justine (not her real name) decided to write 500 words (or as near as), anything goes, per week for 52 weeks. She would then submit it for anonymous posting, via me, her friend. Perhaps a pattern will emerge from her words, but at this stage it’s more an experiment I have agreed to share in. I’ll attempt to draw conclusions at the end of this. Stay tuned if this resonates with you.
"Yesterday I watched a group of preschoolers at play while waiting for a portion of hot chips. Opposite the fish and chips shop there’s a nursery school, and it was play time. I sat in my car, watching, a distraction while I waited.
A jungle jim took pride of place in the sand strewn yard, a small slide and two swings made of recycled tyres. Two boys were screaming at each other as they clambered the bars, one girl sat quietly in one of the swings and another tossed sand from spade to bucket in a corner. The main attraction seemed to be the slide – four there, three girls and a boy. Two were on plastic scooters being chased around by two more.
It was noisy. I guess when we get to a certain age this kind of play seems too noisy! I do not deny them it, for we all did this as kids, and it’s part of how we grow up, but I am glad the school isn't next door to me.
My first thought was for the girl on the swing. It seemed to me she sat there quietly to find herself, perhaps searching for a moment’s peace. With the noise level, she wasn't going to get it. I wondered briefly if she would be the reader of the group, the one who would in the future find a quiet spot at school proper to read by herself while her mates chatted up a storm. Maybe she can’t wait to read, to know how to decipher those squiggles on a page. Yes, she reminded me of me.
And then she suddenly jumped off her tyre and ran into the melee around the slide, shouting as loud as everyone else there for her turn.
My point is that what we see isn't necessarily what is. What we judge as happening in a moment isn't always real. If you think about it, what I was doing was using my personal experiences and placing it onto another. I empathised with a situation based on my own thoughts. It wasn't her reality I saw; it was mine. I admit, it was quite a shock when she called me a liar in jumping into the action. I had, after all, pegged her as a kindred soul. In that moment of shock I understood we cannot ever truly know another unless we are that other. We deal with each other using ourselves as the measuring tool. This isn't wrong, for this is how we make lasting connections (that other does the same, after all, and that is how we find common ground), but the true knowing is somewhat flawed.
I am happy for that girl and all the kids there enjoying their fun. They must make a noise and interact and be themselves. And I must learn to be more objective. Thank you, hot chips, for teaching me this lesson."