When I was a little boy, mine was the kind of toy box that contained a gyroscope, tops of various sorts, a microscope, magnifying glasses, bottles and bug collectors and other assortments of things that were not strictly toys, they were ways to investigate the world. If I reflect on it, I spent the vast majority of my play time engaged in a study of physics. Isn’t that what a frisbee is ultimately, a tool for the study of physics? Also a hot wheel car set upon a track with no power other than the size of the height of the encyclopedias I would concoct, to get the best run and series of undulations, right down to the last book, so that the car could make it to the end of the track that I had created through the living room and down the long hall way. Climbing trees, is a study in physics, so is riding a bike, ping pong, baseball. The problem with electronics is a video game is not a study in physics, it is a study in communication. I preferred the world when it was dominated by the former.
I have had a hard time of late finding anything relevant to add to the poems I have been sharing. It is hard to watch the world be ill, seriously ill. I feel like we are watching our planet spin like a gyroscope, on its axis, like it always has and we have assumed it always will. Suddenly it has begun to wobble and without our collective imaginations to get it spinning at the proper speed again, its at risk of falling over, motionless and emotionless. Is emotion an extension of motion? Does that mean it is an extension of physics, our physical selves?
I spent some time this week in unbridled play, sheer silliness, like children chasing after a ball. There was no point to the 2 hours other than to have fun. There was nothing profound about it, yet the time was utterly transforming for the emotions of the group. Everyone came away energized, excited, closer. Why don’t we play with our friends more? The great tragedy of the COVID pandemic is not just the millions of lives lost, but also the life lost of the living. We started seeing our friends as something to avoid, something we had to protect ourselves from, rather than the cure to what ails us all. Netflix and books and social media can not replace playing with your friends. Electronics can not replace physics. Physics is what makes the world go round. I think we have to re-imagine our futures, like Stevenson. But this time, let’s imagine a future without toy soldiers, without any soldiers. Let’s get the planet spinning again at its proper speed, sustainably, enthusiastically.
FYI – a counterpane is a quilt or bedspread.
The Land of Counterpane
Robert Louis Stevenson – 1850-1894
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.