On my train journey home today I was inspired to play by a Flying Racoon. (Just going to leave that one there).
As the wise Flying Racoon says, us adults are quick to share reasons (excuses?) why we don’t have time for play and don’t see why we should do something that’s pointless? One might assume given my line of work, that life feels like one big game! Not strictly true as things I once considered hobbies and chances to recharge now come with the pressure of ‘earning a living’.
Accepting the play challenge
So, it being a beautiful evening, I decided to challenge myself to make my walk home more playful, I had to get from A to B anyway.
This is part of said walk.
To start with, I chose to walk only on the white line – it wasn’t all that easy! The small bumps and lumps surprisingly sent me off balance – impressive given I was, zero millimetres off the ground.
Close to sticking my hands out to keep steady and try for a side dip off my balance beam – lucky I didn’t because at that moment a cyclist whipped past and shouted – ‘Be careful, you might fall off!‘ As he disappeared on two wheels, we both shared a laugh about my little game.
I also thought back to my morning walk. The path is called the ‘Gullet’ but on wet days I call it the ‘Sluglet’ because you’re running the gauntlet of slimy slugs. My approach to play this morning was to put myself in the slug’s shoes, or suckers, or whatever they have, and imagine how the world must look from their perspective, taking it right to the minutia.
Back in the balance beam championship, on the home straight across the park, again, another young fellow beamed at me and said ‘make sure you stay on the line!‘ We both carried on our merry way, with smiles on our faces and I like to think, a spring in our step (I nearly fell off).
The power of play
I’m no stranger to saying hello to anyone I walk past in the street but it’s not often that people I pass are the ones that initiate connection with me.
Remember when you were a kid and you saw other kids playing together – chances are you assumed inclusion, bowled over and joined right in. Our natural adult instinct (or practiced behaviour?) when we pass someone in the street is to become unusually fascinated with our shoes. I loved that my simple game was seen as an invitation to connect.
Even if we struggle to carve out time to get to an art class, or have quiet time reading a book, there are many mundane things we do in the course of a day. Challenge yourself to liven them up a little so they make you smile. Failing that, grab a pen and stick it between your teeth for 30 seconds.
When we feel better, we do better. Fact.