We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing! ~ George Bernard Shaw
What made me ask the question
I knew I needed to play more. I literally felt myself growing years older by the days that lacked any sort of play. I was completely out of balance and I knew it but I kept thinking tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Then tomorrow never came and I began to fear I could never get my balance back. It was literally making me sick, tired and stressed. I felt significantly older then my fifty years and couldn’t seem to figure out what to do about it...yikes!!
My favorite part of life has always been play. I could not wait to get my work done so I could go play. Organize and focus to execute work efficiently in order to have more play time was my MO. It worked pretty well much of my life but each year older seemed to layer on another task and pull away from play time until I found myself where I was several months ago, hanging on by a thread with my new MO, survival.
A shift in perspective
I was so out of balance I could not even recognize a moment of play. Fortunately, with Divine intervention, I was snagged from my chaos for ten days in England through Sacred Travel Initiative. This began to reprogram me from survival to stability. Moving me in the direction of balance and an incredible appetite to discover information, scientific research and other people’s knowledge to support my inner knowing, play is extremely valuable for all of us to maintain balance in our lives.
I admit I was surprised and extremely pleased to see the support I was hoping for that gave me the permission to play. Some of my favorite wisdom was found in a Ted Talk by Dr. Stuart Brown, “Play is More Than Just Fun.” An idea from the talk which has really stuck with me, is to incorporate play in everything we do not just when the work is done. Talk about giving me the validation and expansion to live my desire! I felt empowered and liberated in the same moment.
Making it happen
Of course, given my previous state of being and the current paradigm of thinking in our culture, incorporating these great nuggets of wisdom have not been as easy as I would like. It is great the neuroscientists of our day are proving the value of play, however, I think many of us are challenged with incorporating it without feeling guilty. So I hold onto the beauty of the awareness allowing me to move in the direction of appreciating my appetite for play.
When summer rolled around, it was a conscious decision on my part to incorporate as much play as possible for our ten year old son with me as a willing participant. As the world was telling me to get him tutors, into summer camps, tennis, swimming, golf and any other lessons or other educational advancement and our son saw a summer of any kind of screen time, not to mention my husband’s perspective, I took the time to pause. This allowed me to consciously determine what was best for our son, our family and me rather then succumbing to the pressures I was feeling.
I wish I could say that clarity was struck when a neat list of summer activities clearly written out in calendar form gently flowed down from the heavens into my hands but I’m still working on manifesting that reality. However, I feel like we did get a relatively nice balance from world pressures, son’s desires, husband’s wishes and Mom’s survival.
There were tutors, lessons, screen time and my husband’s wishes. I can see all of these as valuable because I incorporated the play I needed to survive in a world of high expectations and rule centered activities that I do not easily relate to. So in the achievements of these activities, I relish the laughter in the water, the exhilarating need for thrill and speed on the jet ski, the reading of books lake side on the lounge bed, meals outdoors (a real treasure in Minnesota) with the symphony of nature being the background music. The quality of playtime with family and friends is priceless because of the joy and the laughter it brings.
As the world speeds by and our requirements for success expand and evolve, I am going to do my best to incorporate play in all I do so the joy and laughter will infiltrate life at a level that is infectious. An infection that does not need to be eradicated with medications but needs to be spread through human interactions in order to preserve our survival as a fun, loving and playful species.