Skin In The Game. Playing some Gaga.
Well, now he really has done it! After all these years, he’s taken leave of his senses completely.
I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. You should never have had any delusions.
Perhaps, I should pour a little oil on the troubled waters and make certain you don’t think I’m becoming a groupie of the edgy and not-a-little-odd popular singer named Gaga. I’m not even a fan. Couldn’t name a single song she’s recorded. I think I might be excused. I am, after all, a grandfather. It’s expected of me.
Let’s see if I can clear this up. . .
I took a ride in the country with my grandchildren this afternoon, finding myself in a beautiful valley beside a noisy creek at the end of the ride. Their dad had business to do with the folks at the camp in that valley, so I hung out with the important people.
Grandpa and the kids played gaga ball.
What’s that you say?
Yeah. Me neither. Never heard of it before. Never played it, either.
Gaga ball is a sort of dodge-ball played in a hexagonal wooden box about 20 to 25 feet across, with sides somewhere around 3 feet tall. The nice thing is, no one gets hits in the face. There are no red welts on your body after you get knocked out of the game. The ball can only touch other players below the knees.
This sixty-something-year-old man played it with no visible ill effects. It may, however, take a little time to get over the emotional scarring. The just-turned-ten-year-old girl embarrassed me more than once, yelling you’re out! in a victorious voice that left no doubt my lunch had just been eaten.
She wasn’t the only one to take a bite. All of them tagged me with the ball at least once. I even got a chance to yell victoriously a time or two.
Mostly, I yelled for the kids.
What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! Well, not all afternoon.
Later this evening, I also spent an hour and a quarter making music with more than twenty young adults in a little chamber orchestra. It’s an activity the Lovely Lady and I look forward to a couple of times a week at the local university.
I have described the effect of this activity as keeping us young on several occasions. But, that’s not quite what happens. I think the relationship we have with the young folks there is somewhat symbiotic. In other words, we benefit, but so do they.
We give them a chance to see old people living life. They give us a chance to see their own lives and interactions. Our being there tells them they matter to someone besides their professors and their peers. Them tolerating our presence encourages us that all is not lost.
Somehow, I think we may actually like each other!
Sadly, I think my dad jokes are lost on them, but I guess that’s one I’ll just have to take for the team.
I regularly hear my peer group suggesting they don’t understand the generation coming of age now. Worse, I hear criticisms that border on despair and anger.
There’s a phrase that comes to mind as I consider the problem.
Get some skin in the game.
The words mean you must have a personal investment in order to realize any beneficial result. Not necessarily money, but it could mean that. In my case, I risked my physical skin by clambering into the gaga pit with the young hooligans today.
Engage. Put yourself in a position to lose something real in order to gain something even better.
Friendship. Understanding. Love.
Love is good. The One we follow suggested we should be known specifically for that action. It’s the way the world will know we are His. Period. (John 13:35)
Somehow, we have come to believe they’ll know us because of our critical spirits. Or, our separation. Or, our pride.
The sad thing is, we’re often identified by those things. Often.To our shame. At least, it should be to our shame.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I didn’t start out the afternoon with my grandchildren in the gaga pit with them.
I stood in the shade. I looked at my phone. I looked at my watch. I yelled you’re out at a couple of them a time or two. They looked at me, wondering where I got the right to gloat over their (temporary) defeat.
They knew what I wasn’t seeing. Kids do that, you know.
I didn’t have any skin in the game.
It’s time to engage. Go to the coffee shops they frequent. Ask questions. Tell stories. Invite them to come over and play dominoes. They’ll roll their eyes. But, they’ll probably come if food is involved.
Listen to their music. Even Gaga. Play some of it. Wear ear protection.
Engage. Take chances. Be real.
And, the next time your group of oldsters starts criticizing, ask what they’re doing to make it better.
When Jesus told His followers to let the children come to Him, He touched them. He embraced them to ensure they understand they mattered. To Him — God who became man — they were somebody! (Mark 10:14)
They are somebody. Still today, they are somebody.
Time to get some skin in the game.
Time to start playing some gaga.
Ball, I mean.
We cannot transform what we refuse to engage.
(Elizabeth Kucinich ~ British activist)
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 ~ NIV ~ New International Version ~ Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2018. All Rights Reserved.