When was the last time you gave yourself permission to play? It’s spring. Let’s go out and play!
Often, I ask my clients to recall an activity from childhood where they lost track of time and the world around them. Play provides a mental, emotional retreat from stress or indecisiveness, an opportunity to connect with our inner child.
I was a child explorer. With my sidekick and dog, Lassie, (original, I know) and sometimes playmates Terry and Kenny, the fields, woods, and streams surrounding our rural home in Eastern Ohio, were our frontier. We ran through the woods armed with “guns” (sticks,) built forts, climbed trees and turned rocks over in the creek unleashing crawdads and lizards. We fashioned a make-shift baseball diamond for our World Series. Timmy was their pony. We were delighted to watch through the fence when he was released from the barn in early spring. Timmy ran, kicking his heels and bucking into the pasture. The total image of release and freedom. It made us laugh.
Lost in play, in my sandbox under the apple tree, building and creating order were among my favorite pastimes. Roads for my trucks, bridges, factories, towns, and lakes with dams, all of my own creation.
When we release our creativity through play, we experience connection with our true selves, living in the moment. Spontaneity. Delight. Relieved of stress and distraction, we regain the balance that enables us to live harmoniously.
Sadly, I see many adults who, in the midst of responsibility, forget how to play. The happiest people I know are those who “play” within their careers, chores, and tasks of all sorts.
Joseph Campbell writes in Reflections on the Art of Living, “What you have to do, you do with play” (16).
This week, we have homework: go outside and play! Seize the opportunity to amuse, live in the moment, just as I once did in the sandbox!