So I was sitting having lunch in my almost-gringo-free-park today having lunch, and a little boy comes up to me and asks me if i want a shoe shine, which is a very common occurrence here in Guatemala. I look down at my Chacos and say "no, thank you." He insists, and I motion toward my sandals and say "no, thank you" -- he points to the rubber base part- offering to shine that, and I say "no, thank you," and he gets the point.
I feel kind of bad because he was an extra-cute shoe shiner (but seriously... WHAT is he going to shine?! They're sandals!) and semi-discretely watch him for a while as I eat my chicken, potatoes, and canteloupe (gotta love host families that feed you...) He's not too poorly dressed and looks relatively clean, but obviously any 6ish-year-old who's trying to shoe-shine sandals doesn't come from money. So after my decline(s), he goes and stands for a few minutes watching a group of young boys play an impromptu futbol game in the park, clearly wishing he could play, too. The other boys ignore him and he decides to make his own fun. Way to go, kid!
So he climbs up on the fountain in the center of the small park (which is about 10 feet tall, the first level about 3ft off the ground) and starts walking around the edge of the first level. Keep in mind he is probably 3.5 feet tall. He walks around, carefully staying on the 1-ft lip of the fountain's bottom basin. After a few laps, I think he had gained a bit of confidence, so he started hopping over certain parts of the rim. After several minutes, he parked it and started leaning over to look up into the 2nd level up of the fountain, swatting at the bees that mysteriously congregate there and pulling sticks and trash out of the water.
After about 15 minutes, he goes back to the walking/hopping around the edge of the 1st level. I look back down and start reading my Liberation Theology texts that we're reading for our next retreat and
He's in. No, only half in - one leg, to be exact. I almost go over to help him, but as he pulls his leg out of the water, he's smiling. And then laughing. This little shoe-shine boy half-falls into a public fountain, gets out with a totally wet pant leg (just the 1) and can laugh.
Why do we feel like we have to take life so seriously, to live so carefully? Let's all try and play a little more... and not be afraid to fall (half) into the water.
Note: I found this pict on google images (amazing) -- but it pretty much perfectly captures the little boy I'm talking about.