There are kids everywhere. All of a sudden, from sun up to sun down, they're outside with their baseball bats, tennis rackets and stolen pocket knives making up games and celebrating their freedom. I was bombarded with nostalgia as Leah and I walked Miss Jackson tonight. Remember how magical summer break was back then? Man oh man. It's almost too much to think about. Like super rich cheesecake for the brain.
So we get home, I take the trash out, shower, pour a glass of wine and sit down to read Malcom Gladwell's "Outliers." But I can't stop thinking about those kids. I also can't stop thinking about this part of the book where Gladwell says there are the three factors to meaningful work. 1. Autonomy 2. Complexity 3. Relationship between effort and reward.
I wondered if this can be applied to more than just "work." Is there a relationship between these three factors and the greatness of childhood summer breaks? And if so, is there something to glean?
I grew up on the mean streets of Tecumseh Trail. We lived in the suburbs of Tiffin, Ohio. Our little block was surrounded by farm fields and woods. As kids, we spent a good portion of every day in these fields and woods. We were daytime pioneers, building forts and starting fires. We'd come home for lunch and a quick swim or game of street hockey. But then we'd head back out, Bear Grylls style and attempt to survive Seneca County wilderness.
We were pretty much in charge of our entire day. Autonomy.
Some days we figured out ways to sneak, steal, buy lighters and matches to start fires. Other days we drew up master plans for underground tunnels and hidden hideouts (that were never built) that those Robinsons from Swissland would be jealous of. Complexity.
We left sweat, blood and spit (Big League Chew) in the woods and came home to food and chlorinated-refreshment. We saw daily progress on our forts and if we didn't, we started new ones. There was a tangible relationship between effort and reward.
I wonder if kids naturally migrate toward activities that encompass Gladwell's three factors. Back in the day, with a summer of complete freedom, did we find ourselves spending the day doing things that were autonomous, complex and had a pay-off for our efforts? Things that we look back on and remember as the good ole' days. And the question you saw coming, do we spend our days doing meaningful things now as adults? If not, I wonder why. Those were good times back then. It seems crazy that they just have to stop because we're in the "real" world now. Why can't we earn a living doing meaningful things? That doesn't have to mean curing rabies or whatever. Gladwell's three factors can be found in anything. The question I'm posing is, are they (autonomy, complexity, pay-off) found in our days/lives right now like they were perhaps back when were kids?
I all of a sudden feel like a bomb pop. Remember bomb pops? Man oh man.