The original item was published from October 26, 2021 9:43 AM to October 26, 2021 9:44 AM
Every once in a while we all experience hardship or tragedy in our lives. It can be the loss of a job, an addiction, a divorce, the death of someone close to us, a serious illness or injury, or some other tough phase of life. When these things hit us, they can temporarily immobilize us. It’s common for people to become unmotivated, to wallow in grief, to question the fairness of life, and more. Some people turn to alcohol or drugs to hide the hurt. A few may overcompensate for the pain by going “all out” and living boisterously for a while. The effects of tragedy hurt, but they don’t have to last.
I have found – both personally and professionally – that the way back to a “new normal” life after a tragedy is by finding small doses of normalcy. The way we choose to recreate and the friends we recreate with, are a part of the road to recovery.
I remember watching the Twin Towers fall in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The NFL season was just beginning, and Major League Baseball was headed towards the post season. Both leagues canceled or rescheduled games, taking time off for grieving and respect. America was devastated, and in some cases paralyzed. I also remember very well how healing it felt when the leagues resumed games. A bit of normalcy was returning. The efforts by the leagues to build up pageantry and pay respects to the fallen and to the heroes helped everyone with the healing too. I remember a televised game of the New York Yankees and seeing stars like Derek Jeter crying during the opening ceremonies. I could feel as human and vulnerable as the game’s superstars! It was powerful and comforting all at once.
A couple of my friends have recently lost loved ones. They experience the natural cycle of grief and recovery. They’ll be OK. Each has said that even though they were still grieving it felt good to be back to their respective jobs with their colleagues and friends. They may not be very productive, but there is comfort in getting back to some normalcy.
The way we play and who we play with offer the same relief to us all after tragedy. The COVID pandemic has been a tragedy, and together we #mountainforward to beat this damn thing. Whether it’s a simple walk with the family, a game of pickleball with friends, a day skiing with old fraternity brothers, or going to the beach on a date- living in community and relating to others is key. Parks and recreation facilities and activities are perfectly suited to facilitate these interactions.
People don’t usually think about the Recreation & Park District as the provider of these opportunities. That’s perfectly fine with us. People just want to know where they can find a beach, go swimming, take a walk or play basketball. We are happy to anonymously make these activities possible. For us, it’s about people – all the people in our community. For us it’s not just about the good times, but also the tough times. For us, it’s about the health and wellbeing of everyone.
For us, it’s about seeing you with another person, smiling.