Let’s Play!

Did you ever have the ability, as a child, to get fully immersed in the activity at hand?  Throwing rocks in the creek, playing with dolls, riding a bike, playing with the dog, cops & robbers, etc…?  Most young children have that ability.  And then we adults, we start training them out of that as soon as we can – “put your shoes on now, stop playing it’s time to eat, I need you to focus on this now, don’t follow that bubble we have to go now”.  Well, and what are we supposed to do – that’s the way our world works.  I always knew, growing up, that work was more valued than play; but, I had never seen it more blatantly labeled in black and white than yesterday.  I was reading a children’s biography about a scientist.  One of the historical notes was that the Puritans believed that children needed their parents’ permission to play.  Seriousness was valued.  Harsh punishment for stepping out of the boundaries was encouraged.  It became so clear to me- in that instant.  Many of us Americans were raised, through generational transmission and a plethora of subtle cues, “people who are playful aren’t as valuable as those who work hard.  We loudly value performance and accomplishment.  If you have to play as a child, then fine.  But you had better start outgrowing it as soon as possible.  Get serious.  Get prepared.  Life is a lot of hard work and planning and preparing.  Then if you plan and prepare enough, one day you can relax.  Phew – I’m exhausted just thinking about it!  Fortunately for us who are living now, there is plenty of research that shows that happiness and playfulness are important factors for creativity and productivity.  Nurturing a couple of deep relationships and making time on a regular basis for activities for pure enjoyment go a long way toward living a healthy, productive, and spiritual life.  Today I will pick one thing and do it just for fun – just for the enjoyment.

Our Story Matters

I like to read people’s stories – and think about what factors and influences led them to be where they are today.  I was listening to an interview with a biography writer, and I felt inspired.  Why are biography’s just for a select group of people?  What if every American high schooler had the assignment to write their own “autobiography”?  What if, just for that time they were writing it, they had to stop and think about their lives – who they are to the people who love them; how they came to love dance, singing, juggling, soccer; what things are motivating to them; what are their regrets, losses, grievances about life?  What if every American high schooler had the chance to think about those things and then had the opportunity to share and talk about some of those things?  Then I think about the value there is for each of us in telling our stories.  Just putting words on paper or saying something out loud gives us a different perspective than when it’s just roaming around in our heads.  True – I’m not saying anyone would pay to read  my story – but value is often not about money.  I know my story matters significantly to at least a couple handfuls of people.  It makes me who I am – and I, along with you – my fellow humans, have tremendous value in this world.  I also think that telling our stories is a little like studying history.  It gives us opportunity to reflect, consider, and learn from our past.  It gives us an opportunity to approach our future with intention.  Today, let us take a moment to pause and say out loud or write down a part of our story.