Friday, January 26, 2007

Adam Gates: A Day in the Park

On the nicest day the city has seen in weeks, roughly 200 yards from the Zilker moon tower, rests an urban agent whose influence has transcended time and cultural affiliation.Protruding from the meadow-like expanse of grass, this natural stone formation is an arena for more narratives than this author can conjure.Its role in the lives of its users knows only the limit of their creativity.
At first glance, the actors in this story are bound to three major groups: Adults, children, and dogs. While all are interesting in their distinctions, and certainly worthy of acknowledgment as such, to limit their descriptions to mere observations of demographic detail would be to blind myself to the magic of imagination.It seemed that every observation left more to discover
      The dogs in this setting were interesting in their mannerisms.We tend to think of animals as acting purely on instinct, unaware of meta-physical notions of happiness and enjoyment. But the way they interact with each other and their surroundings seems to contradict this notion. My experience offers me no other word to describe the phenomenon but as "playing." They were not looking for food, protecting their territory, or searching for a mate (ok maybe there were looking for a mate; I know I was). What they were engaged in was something more. They were exploring and wrestling, and their demeanor was cheerful and whimsical. They were having fun, much the same as children, without regard to whatever else was going on the world.
The adults in this story are worthy of more analysis than is possible in this essay. Nonetheless, there is a great deal to be explored.The adults that were engaged in interaction with the setting did so in a number of ways. Some were observers, watching their children play amongst the rocks, envious of the freedom that accompanies youth. Some were younger – both couples and individuals – and they seemed to just be enjoying themselves, trying to escape the monotony of their daily activities by just sitting and appreciating a beautiful day. But no matter the role, one thing seemed to be a constant; that as adults, it becomes difficult to completely escape the harshness of reality. Even when enjoying a gorgeous day we find ourselves regretting that we can't do it more often, or lamenting, even if only to ourselves, that soon the day will be over, and we will be back to the same old grind. I could not help but wonder when it is that we lose the brilliance that the children around us posses.
The children in this setting were the most amazing, and the main reason that this analysis could not manifest itself into the form of a single narrative. As actors in this story, each small band of children created its own particular narrative, with dozens of stories taking place in the same setting at the same time. While the rock formation as an object was unchanging, it was something different to every child. Small children who were able to crawl in the tiniest of crevices were transformed into prehistoric explorers, discovering shelter and imagining that the place was theirs to make of it what they wanted, completely free of creative hindrance. One young boy – barely old enough to explore without his fathers accompaniment – invited other children to come visit "his house," while a group of older boys used the varied elevations of the terraced form as an arena for a ball game they had invented. Each child seemed to have a different definition of what this place was, and to each it was magical. All the while, their parents stood on the periphery, acting as omnipotent agents whose presence was always known, but not in the forefront of the children's thoughts. It was amazing to me that they could lose themselves completely in the worlds they had created. As far as they were concerned nothing else existed, and nothing else mattered.
       This place, whose explicit form and function came to be only through the natural processes of the earth, has proved itself to be a versatile instrument.Its qualities as a character in the landscape can be defined in as many ways as there are people to think of them, transcending notions of time and culture. Seeing the role it plays in the lives of the various actors who exist with, in, and around it, and considering the wealth of knowledge that my years on this earth have afforded me, I can't help but look at the dogs and the children and think, "Damn, I wish I knew what they knew."

No comments: