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February 18th, 2022
Shakespeare once said that all the world is a stage. The sentiment is a cute one: to poke fun at all our petty squabbles, to pull back the curtain on our myriad charades. But for a moment take it literally. The stage is a playground of pretend. Is not every job and relationship just a recapitulation of the playground games we played as a kid, but with higher stakes, taken more seriously?
In adulthood their are bruised knees and betrayals, they just exist on a different magnitude altogether, but the method and the scheme is the same. And declaring adulthood a whole new magnitude might actually be taking it a bit far. The bruised knees and ruptured alliances of the playground were taken very seriously, with tears and retribution, with strategies, confusion and fun. If anything, the stakes of the playground felt just as high, if not higher. The simplest thing could feel like the end of the world.
The fallacy is that kids are allocated playgrounds. You play over there, during this time, but this place you don’t play. The fallacy is that we learn a false separation between the playground of our youth and the rest of the world we encounter as we get older. Shakespeare saw plainly that we never leave the playground, it simply expands until finally the realization dawns that the playground has no borders - it never did. The games change, but they are still games.
The fallacy is thinking we all left the playground. And then we find ourselves admiring those who can recall or maintain a childlike sense of wonder, curiosity and creativity. The joke is on everyone who has convinced themselves miserable while surrounded with all the potential of the giant sandbox of adulthood that surrounds.
Perhaps there’s some option fatigue to blame: being unable to pick anything to do because there’s just too much choice. Strangely kids never have this problem, no matter how many toys the room is filled with. They just get started and gooo. Decision fatigue is probably a self-fulfilling disease - one that can infect simply by dint of learning the concept - a proxy name for a deeper problem, the problem of thinking that adulthood is something wholly different from the curious experimentation of childhood.
The playground fallacy is a failure to realize that all ground is fair game.