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Courtesy Wiki­media Commons

This year at Cen­tral­hal­la­palooza, let’s place a ball pit in front of the tent where the band plays. Although they may appear to be germ-filled cesspits, ball pits are spir­i­tually cleansing. 

Just a few years ago, the National Building Museum in Wash­ington D.C. high­lighted the ongoing pop­u­larity of ball pits by opening a tem­porary art instal­lation called “The Beach,” which fea­tured a 10,000 square foot pit in the main atrium. Thou­sands of people — more often adults than children — flocked to the museum for a brief dive back into childhood.

Even during work hours, it wasn’t uncommon to see a stray mil­lennial at the pit, no doubt skipping out on the H Street scene. When he removed his suede Cole Haan shoes, his neon argyle socks stuck out promi­nently under the hem of his high­water pants. He then shed any of the other accou­trements of pro­fes­sion­alism — a Mont Blanc pen, a never-used Mole­skine, an iPhone — and shoved them into his shoes before entering.

He buried himself six feet deep in childhood. Because it’s a slow hour at the museum, and he was one of the only ones floating silently in a sea of white plastic, he felt like an ethereal being in his noise­lessness.  

And then — gone. He looked at his watch and saw that the market was about to close and remem­bered the dinner date with his dad at Morton’s. Childhood’s end.  

Until time inter­vened, our mil­lennial was redeemed. In a way, ball pits are like bap­tismal fonts. To enter, you must take off your shoes, for they are holy ground. You must forsake all material goods — coins, cig­a­rettes, and pens — in favor of some­thing higher. You must forget about those finals or editing that Somerville paper; you’ll likely get bad grades on them, anyway. Entrust yourself to the pit.

A ball pit won’t actually save your soul, but the way in which it brings you back to the inno­cence of those days at daycare or McDonald’s could be the memory that spurs your sal­vation. For although we hear a lot said about our edu­cation and how important it is to pursue truth and defend liberty, it is often a beau­tiful memory pre­served from childhood that gives us the best edu­cation.

It’s those mem­ories that are timeless and salvific. A plunge in a ball pit could draw up any number of joys long for­gotten by the cyn­icism of ado­les­cence. But that highest enjoyment of time­lessness — floating in a sea of plastic — raises the soul above all that pre­tension in an ecstasy.

And behind the ecstasy is some­thing else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes every­thing we love. A sense of oneness. A rush of grat­itude to whoever is up there — whether it be God or just lonely ol’ Steve Brule.

Of course, it all ends as soon as we leave the ball pit. But that’s why we must con­stantly return both to the pit and our child­hoods.

For even though we may end up running the country on K Street, achieving dis­tinc­tions, or falling into the deepest depravity — in any case, let’s never forget how good we’ll all feel at CHP, united in a ball pit by that inex­plicable end-of-the-year fervor that has made us, for the time we loved each other, perhaps better than we actually are.