“Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.”
– Dr. Stuart Brown, physician, clinical researcher and founder of the National Institute for Play.
If you’re like me, you might have let Play slip out the back door as your career and kids came in the front.
Over the years, she hovered around. I’m sure I caught glimpses of her from time to time, seldom intentional however, welcome. Sometimes, she even arrived for a fleeting unplanned visit – short but sweet.
There’s no better time than as an empty nester to, consciously, invite Play back into our lives.
When I started thinking about her again, this is how I remembered her –
Play bounds into your living room.
She jumps three times on the couch, leaps over the coffee table then crouches low on the floor.
Grinning at you, she is ready to pounce.
Her eyes light up as she shoves Serious aside.
She hops up, spins on one foot, tosses laughter in your direction.
She sings loudly.
She dances wildly.
She dresses joyfully in bright colours and mismatched layers.
She hopscotches her way through life and gathers as many followers as possible along the way.
Play is all-inclusive, inviting everyone into her circle.
I have many friends who fit this description and I love them for it. They fill my heart, make me laugh and I leave their presence smiling. But, it’s just not me.
Thinking of Play this way brings back plenty of discomfort. I’m reminded of how I’d sweat when someone suggested we play Charades after dinner. For me, being “invited into the circle of play” meant an expectation to act silly. Play on those terms makes me squirm, always did.
So, is life that serious now? It can’t be. I’ve made the decision to try a little harder to reconnect with Play.
I’m discovering the lesser-known side of Play and starting to see her through new eyes –
Play hums to herself.
She sings out loud by herself.
She loves to dance with or without a partner.
Play is comfortable in her own skin.
Play is free.
She lightens your mood and changes your perspective.
Play is delightful.
She’s that old reliable friend you can find in a good book, while watching a sunset, or as you create a great meal.
If you think you see her, you decide – tag along or not.
Play is an attitude and a choice. Quite simply, Play is “doing something for it’s own sake.” No strings; no expectations.
So when you find yourself saying, “I need more fun in my life,” take a good look around you. You might be surprised where Play is hiding. Connect on a level that’s comfortable and natural to you. You’ll be smarter for it.
How will you connect to Play? Where will you find her?