Last year, on the edge of a forest near my home, I had a rare opportunity to watch a family of bears playing. I was in my house (with some strong binoculars) and watched two little cubs tussle in the long grass with each other. Every now and again they would bat at their mama’s nose and she’d give them a playful swipe and they’d go back to their little bear wrestling match. It was amazing.
Play was so easy as a kid (or a cub). It was natural and expected. It got me thinking about play as an adult – whether or not I played or was playful in my every day. At first, I was like “sure, I play every day” and when I really sat down and thought about it, sadly, I’ve taken this adulting very seriously and I’m not as playful as I once was or as I’d like to be.
So, I went on-line to look up the definition of play and loved what I found. It is both a noun and a verb and quite frankly, a state of being. I also love some of the words associated with play. Words like:
Frolic, enjoyment, amuse, cavort, recreate, horseplay, skylarking, merrymaking
Don’t these words alone just make the corners of your mouth turn up a little? Oh, and yes, I had to look up skylarking – it means passing the time with tricks and practical jokes.
In recent months, where everything is much more serious, I’ve thought more about play and why it is important now more than ever before. Here are three things about play:
- Time flies, in a good way. Whether it is losing yourself late into the night playing board games with your friends and family or trying to build that sandcastle while beating that incoming tide, time seems to fly. Remember when you were a kid, outside playing, and your Mom called you in for dinner. And you were like “NO WAY! I want to stay out and play”! And you’d run in, wolf your food down and then blaze back outside to keep playing until darkness fell? And then you cried because it was dark and play was over and you had the best-day-ever and you were exhausted? Best thing was you got up and did it again the next day.
- You don’t have to “outgrow it”. Playing keeps us young. Thank goodness because the seriousness of life will age us quickly! My Grandpa lived until he was 90 and for most of his life, he loved to play. I think he may very well have written the mantra “work hard, play hard”. When I was a kid, we lived on the same property together. He’d be up early, working on his house, yard, bike, garden and more. Then come mid-afternoon, he’d hang up his tools and come play with us kids in the pool. Not just sitting on the deck, sunning, but being a total goofball with us. I still remember is we’d all make up weird dives. I remember one of his: The Sooke River Salmon Dive. Toes on the edge of the deck, arms spread wide, with a grace only a salmon could have, we’d launch ourselves into a circle dive into the pool. Laugh, get out and do it again.
- Play is fun. I know, duh. But if you are like me, you take life a bit too serious at times and don’t have enough play, aka fun, in your life. Is it “adulting” to actually have fun? I say hell to the ya! What is happening to us when we are having fun? We are smiling – the good-wrinkle-creating-smiles. We are laughing. Those fabulous endorphins are being released. Our bodies feel good. And the best thing is that play is different for everyone. Maybe you are playing a team sport like curling or cricket. Maybe you are playing Clue, or Hearts, or Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe you are on the floor building lego with some kids. Maybe you are throwing a frisbee. Maybe you are playing bocce. Maybe you are cannonballing into the lake. Maybe you are playing chuck-it or tug-of-war with your pup. Play is a way of being and I want to be more playful, to play more, to bring play into my every day. So, let’s dust off those gumboots, go find us a puddle and stomp and splash…let’s play.
The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
~ Doug Larson