For the kid in all of us
Children don’t ever “forget” to play. Why then do we as adults seemingly forget nearly completely?
Best case, maybe we at least tell ourselves, “Okay, I’ll get to have some fun when I take a vacation.” And, maybe that vacation never comes…? Or, it does, and yet as soon as your vacation ends, you return to your day-to-day life, and playtime gets put back into the Vacation Time Capsule for safekeeping.
Are we really too busy to enJOY what’s happening around us? With this edition of Soul Notes, I say it’s time to play!
PLAYtime is JOYtime
Sometimes, you just need a quick play break
- “Playtime is for kids.”
- “You need to be a ‘responsible grown up’.”
- “There’s no time for such foolishness!”
Any of these sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard them from someone in your life, or from the media, or even coming from that ‘little voice inside your head.’
I know that for me, I find myself seemingly caught up in the profuseness of all that is in this thing called Life – that I lose myself in the depths, and forget that it’s okay to lighten up! My inner Lil’ Lori from time to time, though, does come to my aid – it’s during those long periods of ‘deep work,’ that she will proverbially reach up and grab me by the hand, and say “hey, wanna play a game?”
And, my 13-year old corgi/border collie mix Molly (the Wonder Dog), still tries to get my attention with earnest persistence. In my home office, when I’m focused on working from the computer for a long stretch of time, I’ve often looked down to discover that she has one-by-one brought toys in from the other room, and has set them down at my feet. Squeaky toy, drop. (Wanna play?) Tennis ball, drop. (Can we play now?) Frisbee, drop. (How about now?) Rope toy, drop. (Let’s play!!)
Dogs naturally take time out to play. They even have the body language for it, known as the “play bow,” that indicates to other animals that they are ready to engage in some fun.
Hmmm…What if humans started doing this?
It seems that most of us are overdue for a quick play break.
SO, I say we all take a stand together, one and all.
Please join me in taking the following oath.
Raise your right (or left) hand (or put one or both hands on your heart), and say:
- “I hereby give myself permission to play”
- “I hereby declare I will engage in playtime more than I ever thought possible”
- “I pledge to keep incorporating play into my life, on an ongoing basis”
- “I make this proclamation, right now, in this very moment”
Extra credit: And to really seal it in, you may wish to add the following:
“Tap-tap, no erasies.”
This was something my friends and I would say on the playground at school. Once you had declared whatever it was about the game you were about to play (we’d reach a consensus about the rules for that particular game, for example, tetherball) – you would then say aloud, “tap-tap, no erasies.”
That was our little ritual which would make it clear to the group that there was no going back now, on the agreed upon stipulations.
Maybe we should apply this ritual to business negotiations, and mediations, and arbitrations, and small claims court? I’m only partially kidding. (Kidding, get it?…oh, well, puns with me are always intended…grin.)
The importance of playtime
Now that you’ve given your adult self full permission, I invite you to let your inner child out to PLAY.
As a young one, I would take sidewalk chalk, and map out a bicycle “route” on the blacktop in our back yard. To maximize the space, I’d chalk out lines for streets that wrapped back and forth, complete with intersections and four-way stops. Then, I’d ride my bicycle through the self-drawn roads, using my imagination along the way – looking for and responding to pedestrians, other ‘motorists’ and road hazards. Sometimes friends would join me, and we would ride our bikes, criss-crossing at intersections, and allowing for merging and passing within and between “lanes”. It involved using our bodies, our minds, and our imaginations, all the while fostering all kinds of being-in-the-moment creativity.
When I was three, a few friends and I collaborated on-the-spot (again in the back yard) to form our own makeshift musical group. I remember taking a large plastic bucket, turning it upside down, and proceeding to bang on it with a couple of wooden spoons. I made myself the drummer in the band. We didn’t really know how to play any songs, so we just made them up! It was great fun.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In our goal driven society, may we all remember that the focus of play is the experience of it. There’s nothing to “achieve.”
Play is how we connect.
Additionally, play brings joy, and joy brings a renewed energy and a fresh perspective.
It also creates space. There’s no room for fear to hang out with you while you’re playing!
Challenges too have a way of working themselves out to some degree. Feeling stuck at a certain point in a project? Needing to clear out some energetic sediment that needs some composting? How about seeking a new take on a seemingly unsolvable problem?
Well-timed play breaks often result in increased productivity. Go for it! A change of scenery will do you good!
Taking a play break
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Pick up a box of crayons and a coloring book. Start coloring! (Coloring books for adults, by the way, are becoming increasingly popular!)
- Arrange a night of “mini-golf” out with your friends or family.
- Play fetch with your dog, or a neighbor’s dog.
- Play “marco polo” in a nearby swimming pool.
- Dance to one of your favorite up-beat music videos.
- Swing on a swing set.
- Look at the night time sky through a telescope.
- Finger paint!
While engaged in these types of activities, notice the feelings they invoke…openness, expansiveness, joy, pleasure, love. When you’re in that state, just imagine all the goodness that is possible!
Ready to go play? Really, truly? Tap-tap, no erasies!
Okay, your turn:
When’s the last time you (voluntarily) stepped (or better yet jumped!) smack dab into a rain puddle? Blew bubbles? Flew a kite? Whistled?
Or, when was the last time you sat on the grass, looking up at the sky, and tried to identify the funny shapes and formations in the clouds?
When walking with a friend, when’s the last time you turned to them, and said: “Hey, I’ll race you to that telephone pole – Go!”
I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!