One of my favorite places to go in West Hartford is Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink. No matter the weather outside, the conditions for the indoor rink are always the same. Since it is open year-round, I can get out of the rain, away from the heat, or into the holiday spirit. Typically in life the date on a calendar dictates what I can do, but not at Veterans Memorial.
An indoor ice skating rink is the epitome of consistency. Not only are the conditions stable throughout the year, but the activity itself has been left nearly unchanged throughout the years. Skating today is exactly the same as it was during my childhood. Given everything that has dramatically transformed since my youth, it’s comforting to find something that hasn’t been altered. Putting on skates offers the warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.
It was the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who first observed that change is the only constant. If he were around today, he might note that constant change is exhausting. There is an underlying feeling of anxiety that we’re always one step behind. As soon as we’ve learned the ins and outs of version 2.0, we’re notified that there’s a newer and shinier model—version 3.0. It’s out with the old and in with the new. Many of us do, however, harbor fantasies of somehow slowing down the hamster wheel of life. There is no better way to slow down than by putting away the smartphone and putting on the skates.
We also long for shared experiences; a common bond between grandparents, parents, and children. Given the rapid change of life, these experiences are becoming increasingly rare. Even the game of Monopoly, long viewed as a nostalgic game that everyone could relate to, has changed. Two years ago Hasbro caused a minor uproar by releasing a version with electronic banking. Passing Go, once awarded $200, was inflated to $2 million.
Popular music, though, has been one common denominator. When Elvis burst on the scene, his shaking hips divided Baby Boomers and their parents. They certainly did not listen to the same music. The Beatles, on the other hand, became a cross-generational band. Nearly everyone, no matter their age, could appreciate the same songs. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials unite.
Ice skating at Veterans Memorial is a cross-generational shared experience. Everyone can remember learning to skate on the same type of ice, with the same type of skates, and having the same level of initial awkwardness. Grandparents may not understand the technology or language of their grandchildren, but they can relate to them with ice skating. They can also get on the ice and skate alongside their grandchildren. That doesn’t happen on the soccer field, but it can happen at Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink.
Polgar is a writer/attorney/educator who lives in West Hartford. He is the author of Wisdom in the Age of Twitter, recently released through Libboo.com.