[Editor’s note: The following speech was delivered at the 2018 Colorado Parks and Recreation Conference during an American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration-sponsored session, led by Jamie Sabbach, where a group of eight hand-chosen students and young professionals prepared six-minute presentations on why they chose the field, their passion for the profession and their hopes and dreams for the future of parks and recreation.]
Life has a way of unfolding obstacles before us, and these obstacles can debilitate and derail us. So often, we get caught up in the image of “serious” adulthood that we forget how we grew and learned in the first place. There is a tendency in our modern culture to disconnect from our happy-go-lucky sense of wonder, because we think we have learned what we need, and there is nothing else to learn. This leads to a bitter sense of close-minded stagnation that keeps us separate from our neighbor. Because we know something they may not have learned yet, doesn’t mean they don’t know something we don’t or that they won’t learn what we have learned. There is always a point in life where we did not know what we do now. Even now, we are still in the dark in contrast to what we will learn in the future.
Recreation has reinforced for me the value of comfort not only within ourselves, but also with the connections we build in our lives. Like a Chinese finger trap, it is the relinquishment of tense control that frees up the heart for new experiences. It is important to find peace and connection, as the two lead to a better mood and better health. Letting go of what could have been and our imagination of a broken future so we may appreciate what is and what can be improved is the important paradigm that is catalyzed by recreation, as the word literally says, “RE CREATE.” We are not stones, and we all have the hope of better, as long as we have life. The hope and joy of what is next lays in the true nature of the human spirit.
Play brings us back to our roots of growth, when we could relax and allow life to be. Letting our raft of life inflate to carry us down the river of wisdom is vital. We naturally, will have to patch the raft as time passes, but instead of letting the gash sink us, we must accept the challenge to learn. Through connection with others, we can convey our wisdom to either help them patch their raft as well or to help them to avoid puncturing the same hole in their raft. A playful, relaxed environment helps us work through and put our problems to rest. Relaxation releases fear, which is the culprit of many problems in the first place. If it is not the culprit, it is certainly the magnifying glass.
I will never fear as long as I have breath, and as long as I have breath, I will play. As life winds to the last, I am not afraid that my life will be for naught because I found how to use what I could, while I could. We are all given a beginning and an end, but what we do in the meantime is our time and ultimately affects us. That’s why it is very crucial to me to connect people with their own ability to RE CREATE. A cesspool of negativity is flushed away when we get back in touch with life, and for me, recreation is life.
It is my job to show people how to step back and reconnect. Any recreation that is pure of heart is where I will be focused. I found balance in myself and feel it is my duty to help others find it as well. Like life, recreation presents its own obstacles and challenges that offer genuine opportunities for growth through solution and compromise. As we build relationships through social recreation and rebuild ourselves through personal recreation, we can identify and improve on our strengths and weaknesses. The light shines when we accept what cannot be changed immediately, as the journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step.
It is so important to me to convey this message because some people believe that the first step is beyond them, so they don’t take that first step. If the step would have been recognized as something possible, their time would have continued to a new road. The first step then leads to the next, which creates a new journey of fun. As we march, change is apparent, and our future becomes more distinct, but this is only possible when we accept what must, start at any point, and RE CREATE and reinforce it.
Michael Bogema is a Senior at Metropolitan State University Denver.